June 8, 1980: the $10,000 Horseshoe

Six horses challenged Spectacular Bid in the Californian Stakes at Hollywood Park on June 8, 1980. As expected, Spectacular Bid was assigned the highest weight—130 pounds.       

At about 7:30 that morning, trainer Bud Delp sent Bid to the track to get in his morning jog. Toward the end of the jog, Bid’s hind foot nicked the right front hoof, knocking the shoe off.

Delp called his farrier, Jack Reynolds, who lived in Detroit, and Reynolds said he would catch the next plane to Los Angeles. A few minutes later, Delp’s phone rang; it was Reynolds. The last plane of the day to Los Angeles had just left Detroit.

The race to Hollywood Park

Tom Meyerhoff responded and chartered a Learjet in Chicago, which picked up the farrier in Detroit and began the flight to Los Angeles.

However, high winds in Denver had grounded all planes. Once the jet was cleared for takeoff, Delp arranged the Inglewood, California, chief of police to meet Reynolds at the airport and escort him to the track. But time was running out, and Delp had to find another farrier to put the shoe on.

On the way to the post, Delp felt a hand on his shoulder; it was Jack Reynolds. Tom Meyerhoff called the incident the $10,000 horseshoe, based on the cost of the Learjet.

The Race

Bid was ready to race. Getting off to a good start for a change, he stalked the leaders, Bolger and Replant, down the backstretch, and then entering the far turn, he turned on the gas and easily passed the leaders. By the middle of the far turn, he had the lead and then some; by the homestretch, he was six lengths ahead of Paint King.

Jockey Bill Shoemaker just sat on Bid, not asking for any speed, and Bid’s final margin of victory was four and one-fourth lengths over Paint King. Caro Bambino finished third, another three and one-fourths lengths back. His time for the 1 1/8 mile race: 1:45 4/5.

After the race, Shoemaker, who had ridden Swaps, Kelso, Round Table, Buckpasser, Damascus and Forego  proclaimed Bid “the best horse I’ve ever ridden.”

40 Years Ago: Spectacular Bid Destroys Preakness Field

Forty years ago today, Ron Franklin, Bud Delp and the Meyerhoffs made their homecoming successful as Spectacular Bid romped to a 5 1/2-length victory in the Preakness Stakes – their second jewel in the Triple Crown after a successful Kentucky Derby.

The only drama was and escalation in the heated feud between Franklin and fellow jockey Angel Cordero – a feud that would boil over weeks before the Belmont Stakes.

As usual, it didn’t start well. Off to a sluggish start, Bid was bumped by Flying Paster. He then faced an attempt to cut him off as Cordero moved in toward him with Screen King, trying to force him to the rail.

Franklin first accepted the assignment to the rail to get away from Cordero, then looked for his chance to go outside. However, Cordero knew he would do this and moved Screen King in front of Bid, almost inviting him to check his speed and go around him.

General Assembly and Flying Paster were setting a quick pace, running the first quarter mile in :23 2/5, with Screen King comfortably in third and Bid in fourth, 5 lengths behind. Golden Act trailed the pack.

The Paster and General Assembly reached the backstretch neck and neck, with a 3-length lead on the rest of the horses. Cordero swung Screen King to the outside, knowing Franklin’s hesitancy to go to the inside—Cordero had created that fear in the Florida Derby—and was almost daring Bid to go to the inside.

But Franklin was a different rider than he was at the Florida Derby several months ago. He resisted staying on the inside and swung Bid all the way to the middle of the track, a place where few horses travel, moving to the outside of Screen King as the two began to catch General Assembly, who had a small lead. And the crowd of 72,000 roared.

Heading into the far turn, Franklin let Bid go, and Bid responded. He blew past Screen King, moved directly in front of him, and forced him to slow down. Cordero stood up in his stirrups in an act that seemed to plead to the stewards, “Foul!” Cordero cost Screen King valuable seconds; the horse was soon out of contention.

By this time, Flying Paster had passed General Assembly, and fans and the media saw what they were looking for: a duel between East and West, Bid vs. The Paster on a decent track, no excuses. Bid stayed wide.

And if you blinked, you missed the rivalry. Within a few seconds, Bid blew past The Paster, leading by one length, then two. The margin doubled to four as the horses entered the homestretch.

Golden Act made his late move, but Bid was too far ahead. The Paster faded as Bid increased his lead to six lengths. Franklin finally reined him in to save the horse’s stamina, he was five and a half lengths ahead of Golden Act. Screen King somehow managed third place; Flying Paster was fourth, and General Assembly, fading badly, finished last.

The time was 1:54 1/5, the second-fastest Preakness in history and just 1/5 of a second slower than the record set by Cañonero II in 1971 (Secretariat’s record had not been verified yet). It remains the fastest Preakness ever run on a wet track. If Franklin had not pulled Bid up toward the end, or if he had more competition to push him, the record would have been his.

For the win, Bid earned $165,300, which brought his career earnings to over $1.1 million. He had now won 12 races in a row, 14 of 16 for his career. The Meyerhoffs exchanged congratulations and kisses and exploded in screams as they began their frantic rush down to the winner’s circle.

“Fantastic!” Someone yelled to Tom Meyerhoff as he approached the winner’s circle. “It wasn’t fantastic,” he replied, throwing the fan a Spectacular Bid T-shirt. “It was spectacular.”

Another Rout: Spectacular Bid Wins Mervyn LeRoy by Seven

Thirty-nine years ago today, Spectacular Bid received a high weight for the Mervyn LeRoy Handciap at Hollywood Park on May 18, 1980 – 132 pounds – and still destroyed the field by seven lengths en route to his sixth straight win.

Bid lay off the pace as Replant led into the clubhouse turn. Flying Paster stayed with Bid toward the back of the field and moved to the outside of Bid, who was on the rail. Pierce was right where he wanted to be, and Bid was boxed in.

Shoemaker first tried to find room outside Peregrinator, who was hugging the rail in front of Bid, but the colt moved off the rail to block any chance of Bid getting through. Shoemaker waited, and then an opening developed between Peregrinator and Flying Paster.

Shoemaker went for it. Eight lengths behind after the first quarter mile, Shoemaker urged Bid on, and the horse slipped between horses with a twenty-two-second quarter mile down the backstretch. He then had to squeeze his way between Beau’s Eagle and Replant. Replant relented, but Beau’s Eagle hung on.

The two battled neck and neck again around the far turn—Bid on the inside of Beau’s Eagle—but in the homestretch, Bid turned it up a few notches and extended his lead to win by seven lengths over Peregrinator, who closed for second place in the field of six.

The final time was 1:40 2/5, almost a full second faster than the winning time of Affirmed, who had carried only 130 pounds on the same track.

Flying Paster finished fourth; Bid had now beaten him seven times.