February 3, 1980 – Spectacular Bid Breaks a World Record

Bold Bidder, Spectacular Bid’s sire, had set a new track record of 1:59 3/5 for one and a quarter miles in winning the Charles H. Strub Stakes fourteen years earlier. It had remained a record up to 1980. Now Spectacular Bid was going to take a crack at his sire’s record.

Bid carried a high weight of 126 pounds, with Laz Barrera’s Valdez getting 122 pounds. Bid’s old rival, Flying Paster, got a five-pound advantage at 121 pounds, and the light gray Relaunch was barely carrying anything—116 pounds.

It showed. At the start, Relaunch took a huge lead running past the grandstand for the first time—about six lengths—with Valdez running in second. Flying Paster was close behind in third place, followed by Spectacular Bid in last place.

The first quarter was clocked at a mercurial twenty-two seconds; Relaunch was flying through the race, but there was no way he could sustain that pace.

As they entered the backstretch, Relaunch stretched his lead to seven lengths, and then Bid began to move up. He passed Flying Paster and Valdez to take second place, then set his sights on the light-gray Relaunch, who was now 10 lengths in front. Throughout the backstretch, Valdez kept up with Bid. The half-mile time was 42 3/5 seconds. The pace was blistering.

On the backstretch, Bid and Valdez ran neck and neck for second, closing the gap on an exhausted Relaunch. The two caught Relaunch on the far turn, and then Bid inched his way ahead of Valdez; Relaunch somehow found some reserve and stubbornly held on to the lead entering the far turn. But entering the homestretch, Bid found that second wind and pulled away.

Once again, here came The Paster.

Flying Paster, at one time seven lengths back of Bid and Valdez, had moved up around the far turn. Taking advantage of the tiring Valdez, who drifted wide on the turn, he went inside and took over second place at the top of the stretch.

Don Pierce, Flying Paster’s jockey, called on him for his best, and Flying Paster gave him everything he had. But Bid was in top gear. He led by 2 1/2 lengths, and then pulled away even more, making it 3 1/4 lengths as he passed under the wire.

The time: 1:57 4/5.

A world record on dirt.

The winning time shattered Bid’s sire’s track record by almost two seconds and beat the American record of 1:58 1/5 set by the great Noor in 1950 and equaled by Quack in 1972. The only faster mile and a quarter was set on hillside turf courses, which ran downhill in parts.

The pace was so fast that even Flying Paster’s second-place finish broke the track record.