March 2, 1980 – Spectacular Bid wins Santa Anita Handicap


Spectacular Bid entered the $350,000 Santa Anita Handicap, scheduled for March 2, and the racing secretary assigned him a career-high 130 pounds for the 1 1/4 mile race. Bid had never carried more than 126 pounds.

When race day arrived, it brought torrential rains, making things miserable for the 49,285 who showed up to see Bid race. It also turned the racetrack into a mud pit.

To keep the mud out of his mount’s face, Shoemaker sent Spectacular Bid close to the lead, pacing him so he would not run out of steam. Beau’s Eagle set out quickly, establishing a two-length lead going by the stands the first time. Bid was second, and Flying Paster was third.

Beau’s Eagle continued to add to his lead, making it four lengths with a half mile to go. Shoemaker asked Bid for an extra gear, and he moved on Beau’s Eagle.

Flying Paster also made a move, and as they passed the five-sixteenths pole, the three were locked in a battle for first. The Paster, on the outside, lost some ground, and Bid stuck a neck out in front of the tiring Beau’s Eagle.

When they reached the top of the stretch, Bid’s margin had extended to a full length. Shoemaker tapped him with the whip twice, and Bid responded. He accelerated in his leisurely manner, coasting to an easy win by five lengths over Flying Paster, covering the sloppy mile and a quarter in an impressive 2:00 3/5.

The Paster had carried 123 pounds, seven pounds less than Bid; it was the fourth time in a row he had finished second to Bid and his sixth straight loss to him. Not even extra weight on Bid could get Flying Paster any closer.

With the win, Bid moved past the $2-million-dollar mark in career earnings—the second horse in history to pass that milestone. He also became only the sixth horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap under such a high weight; only Seabiscuit, Thumbs Up, Mark-Ye-Well, Round Table, and Ack Ack had carried as much weight as Bid.

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