June 30, 1978: Spectacular Bid Wins His Maiden

The day of Spectacular Bid’s first race was hot and humid; the temperature would reach 90 degrees that day. Since the race was at nearby Pimlico Race Course, it was easy for the Meyerhoffs, Bid’s owners, to see their newest acquisition.

“[Trainer] Bud [Delp] usually says, ‘If you want to come, come,’” Teresa Meyerhoff said. “But with Bid, he said, ‘I think you should be there because I think he is going to run very well.’”

They were treated to a show. Bid pranced around in the post parade, light on his feet as if he were ready to get the race over with. The assistant starters loaded each horse in the starting gate; the bell signaled the start, and the doors to the gate opened with the track looming ahead.

Slow start, fast finish

Bid lumbered out of the starting gate and settled into fifth place behind the rest of the field. It took a while to get his long, clumsy legs to gain their rhythm, but they soon settled into a pattern, and he took off.

He passed his competitors with ease as his effortless stride took hold of the track, and he claimed the lead quickly, never looking back. Franklin hand-rode him the entire way and never had to use his whip, as the two-year-old romped to a three and one-quarter length win over a fast-closing Strike Your Colors.

His time for the 5 1/2 furlongs was 1:04 3/5, two-fifths of a second away from the track record. It was his first race. And he was only two.

Upstairs in the press box, William Phillips of the Daily Racing Form turned to Pimlico general manager Chick Lang and said, “We’ve got ourselves a good one. We’ve got a Kentucky Derby horse!”

The best was yet to come.


  1. Mary
    • July 1, 2019
    • 8:31 pm

    Saw him run at the Derby…Spectacular.

    • peege43
      • July 15, 2019
      • 3:21 pm

      Lucky you! I watched it on television and was pulling for him all the way.

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