October 18, 1979: Bid Starts a New Streak at the Meadowlands

Bid captures Meadowlands Stakes

Bid lengthens his lead on the field in the 1979 Meadowlands Cup. Photo © Copyright Jim Raftery.

Trainer Bud Delp entered Spectacular Bid in the Meadowlands Cup during the fall of 1979. To ensure that Bid would enter, officials at the Meadowlands had sweetened the pot, raising the purse from $250,000 to $350,000.

Twenty-two other horses were nominated, including Affirmed, but Laz Barrera decided not to run him. Instead, he sent his latest sensation, Valdez, to the Meadowlands. Valdez, once considered a Triple Crown contender, had almost died from a viral infection in the spring but had recently beaten Kentucky Derby front-runner Shamgo by 2 3/4 lengths to win the Swaps Stakes in Inglewood, California. It was his third victory in a row and his fifth in six starts. Bid drew the rail for the race—not where Delp wanted him to be.

Delp was paying no attention to the race but instead, was still talking about a rematch between Bid and Affirmed. “I think we deserve another shot,” he said. “Whatever it takes to get these two horses together again, I’d like to see it happen. They could meet next month.” Barrera said, “I’d have to think about it. After tonight, it might not be necessary,” implying that Valdez might spoil the party.

Spectacular Bid Bides his time in the Meadowlands

October 18 was a cool night at the Meadowlands—a perfect night for racing. Going off as the 1 to 9 favorite, Bid got off to his usual slow start, giving the lead to Text, ridden by Angel Cordero. Text held the lead for the first quarter mile, with Valdez second. At the half-mile pole, Text and Valdez switched places, with Bid biding his time in third place.

Jockey Bill Shoemaker urged his mount on in the backstretch, and Bid, taking his time, slowly gained ground on the leaders. As they entered the far turn, Bid took off, as if he had been waiting for the right moment. He passed Valdez and Text, and although Valdez fought back, matching Bid stride for stride around the turn, Bid drew away in the homestretch, widening his lead with his precision strides.

He finished three lengths ahead of a fast-closing Smarten, who nosed out Valdez for second. He had covered the mile and a quarter in 2:01 1/5, breaking the old track record by 2/5 of a second. Another track record broken.