When Citation won the Triple Crown in 1948, few observers could have imagined that it would take twenty-five years before this feat was accomplished again. Secretariat broke the drought in 1973, and was followed by Triple Crown champions in 1977 (Seattle Slew) and 1978 (Affirmed). In the spring of 1979, hope for a third consecutive Triple Crown winner rested with a dominating colt named Spectacular Bid.
Spectacular Bid was named two year-old champion in 1978 after winning five stakes races in nine starts. His three year-old campaign began as impressively as his two year-old season had ended with "The Bid" winning the Hutcheson Stakes, the Fountain of Youth, the Florida Derby, the Flamingo Stakes (at now defunct Hialeah), and the Blue Grass Stakes. He entered the first Saturday in May as the odds on favorite with win the Kentucky Derby and a strong bet to become the sport's third consecutive Triple Crown winner.
Although The Bid impressively won both the Derby and the Preakness, Triple Crown glory was not meant to be. According to many reports, the morning of the Belmont Stakes, Spectacular Bid stepped on a safety pin which became lodged into his hoof. The pin was removed and although The Bid seemed fine at the time, the hoof required severe treatment following the race. Compounding The Bid's problems that day was the poor ride given to him by his jockey, Ron Franklin, who had the horse placed too far forward early in the race causing The Bid to tire badly in the stretch, finishing third. The Belmont Stakes was Ron Franklin's last race as Spectacular Bid's rider, as Hall of Fame rider Willie Shoemaker replaced Franklin for the duration of The Bid's racing career.
While Spectacular Bid was never able to join the elite list of Triple Crown winners, he still remains one of the most dominate horses the sport has seen in the last thirty years. Here's a look back at Spectacular Bid winning the 1979 Kentucky Derby.