Forty-three years ago today, Spectacular Bid was born at Buck Pond Farm in Versailles, Kentucky. The birth was a rarity; his mother, a small 6-year-old light gray mare named Spectacular, gave birth in a paddock in the morning instead of in a stable at night. Continue Reading →
Spectacular Bid made a spectacular 3-year-old debut in the Hutcheson Stakes on Feb. 7, 1979, defeating Lot o’ Gold by 3 3/4 lengths in the slop.
Although 24 horses were nominated for the Hutcheson Stakes, Northern Prospect, Lot o’ Gold, and Medaille d’Or were the only horses brave enough to face Bid. The rest of the possible contenders were intimidated by Bid’s meteoric workouts.
One week before the race, the colt covered six and a half furlongs in a sensational 1:15 2/5, two-fifths away from a track record for a race. To have that fast and long of a workout just days before a race was unheard of.
February 7 was gray and rainy—not a good omen for Bid, who had not fared well in the Tyro Stakes the year before on a muddy track, finishing fourth. Going off as the 1–20 favorite, Bid started quickly but settled in behind the leader, Northern Prospect, and let him take a one-and-a-half-length lead.
Jockey Ron Franklin tapped Bid on the shoulder with his whip, and away he went, his shod hooves struggling to capture traction in the slop. He moved to the inside of Northern Prospect and pulled ahead going into the homestretch, running away easily and stretching his lead over Lot o’ Gold to three and three-fourths lengths at the wire. Had Franklin not eased him up at the end, the margin would have been greater.
On a wet track, Bid covered the seven furlongs in 1:21 2/5, only three-fifths of a second slower than the track record. It was his sixth win in a row.
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.