August 20, 1978: Spectacular Bid Fails in Dover


Bud Delp, Spectacular Bid’s trainer, wanted revenge for Bid’s loss in the Tyro Stakes. So Hawksworth Farm put up $5,000 to enter the horse as a supplementary addition to the Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park on August 12.

The day before the race, though, Delp got a call from Bid’s veterinarian, who said the horse had a touch of colic. Delp quickly announced that Bid was not running in the race.

Once the horse recuperated, Delp entered the horse in the Dover Stakes on August 20. The bettors’ favorite, Bid got out of the gate in second position, then settled back and let a few horses pass him. Jockey Ron Franklin’s inexperience showed as he allowed Bid to get caught behind two horses on the rail. He had a split second to go outside and around the horses, but he hesitated, and Strike Your Colors, who finished second to Bid in his maiden win, pulled up beside him.

Franklin and Bid were boxed in. They couldn’t go left because they were beside the rail, and they couldn’t go right because there was a horse beside them. There were two horses in front of them as well. Locked into fourth place, Franklin again refused to take advantage of an opening between horses at the half-mile pole. Meanwhile, Bid strained at the reins, eager to take off.

Strike Your Colors made his move on the outside and took the lead heading into the stretch, but Franklin didn’t follow him until it was too late. He took Bid around the row of horses at the five-sixteenths pole and flew by them. Bid aimed his sights on Strike Your Colors, but he didn’t have enough track. He finished second by two-and-a-half lengths.

It was the second defeat in a row for Bid.

His record in four starts: two wins, one second, and one fourth—respectable, but not outstanding. Delp was furious with the young Franklin for getting Bid trapped on the rail. “No way the horse should have got beat,” Delp said. “If Ronnie hadn’t had him in trouble, he’d [have] won by 10.”

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