The Early Signs of a Champion: Excerpt from SPECTACULAR BID

04.1 - Spectacular Bid Winning 1979

IN JUNE 1978, while he was having dinner with Bud Delp, Ron Franklin, who had been riding Spectacular Bid as part of his regular schedule, said, “Boss, that’s a helluva colt we got.”

“How the hell would you know?” Delp asked in his grumpy but amiable way.

Franklin knew. Earlier in the day, the apprentice jockey had ridden Bid half a mile in a blazing forty-six seconds flat. A good time for an adult racehorse to run four furlongs during a workout is forty-eight seconds. And Bid was a baby, a two-year-old that was just learning to race and whose bones and muscles had not yet matured.

06.1 - Spectacular Bid CB

When he got off the horse, Franklin said, “This horse is great! He feels like two horses under you. When you pull him up, he wants to go again.” Delp answered Franklin as a master would respond to an overeager apprentice: “What the hell are you talking about? What do you know about horses?” Delp himself did not want to admit it, but he was getting excited about this colt. Was this the horse he had been waiting for? Was this the horse that would lift him out of the claiming business? Could he have a champion?

Bid had returned from Middleburg Training Center in March 1978, along with the rest of Hawksworth Farm’s crop, and Delp’s assistant, Charlie Bettis, had been working with Bid for a few weeks. “Bud came over to see him,” Bettis said. “He came away impressed, and said, ‘He needs to be with me [at Pimlico].’” Delp had taken three of the Meyerhoffs’ most promising colts from the Keeneland sale to Middleburg; when he saw Bid run against the other two colts, Seethreepeo and I Know Why1, he said, “I could see that Bid was best.” Delp had to stop running Bid with the other two horses for fear that he would dishearten them with his speed. Franklin had to keep Bid under tight control to keep the other two horses on pace with the colt

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