Kentucky Derby Flashback: The Bid Romps In '79

In the annals of horse racing history, the name Spectacular Bid holds an esteemed and high rank. Widely considered one of the greatest thoroughbreds of all-time, and arguably the best horse to never win the Triple Crown, Spectacular Bid raced 30 times in his career, winning 26 races and a then-record $2.7 million. Prior to running in the 1979 Kentucky Derby, The Bid ripped off five consecutive victories in the Hutcheson, Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby, Flamingo Stakes, and the Blue Grass. Today, racing five times in the weeks leading up to the Derby would be considered "over-working" a horse; in 1979, race preparation was viewed in a completely different light.

Spectacular Bid went into the starting gate on the first Saturday in May as the odds-on favorite to win the 105th running of the Kentucky Derby. Facing a field of ten, a number that pales in comparison to today's routine 20-horse Derby fields, The Bid broke slowly, raced mid-pack in the early stages, made a big move as the field rounded the far turn, and cruised home under Ron Franklin to win by almost three lengths at the wire.

Spectacular Bid would go on to win the Preakness but fall short of Triple Crown glory after an eventful Belmont Stakes that saw him step on a safety pin prior to the race. During the race, Franklin and The Bid quickly moved to the early lead, only to fade to an astonishing third by the time the Test of Champions was over.

Below is Spectacular Bid winning the 1979 Kentucky Derby.


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