By Mint Julep


Ron Franklin Jockey: One Kentucky Derby Win

kentucky derby winner 1979 spectacular bid

Embark on an exciting journey through the remarkable career of jockey Ron Franklin. Starting from his beginnings in Baltimore, witness his historic victory at the Kentucky Derby aboard Spectacular Bid when he was just 19 years old. Follow along as Franklin rises swiftly in the world of horse racing by winning the Preakness Stakes and establishing himself as a promising talent in the sport. Experience both the triumphs at prestigious races and personal challenges like substance abuse that shape his career. Ultimately, discover how Franklin’s legacy endures as a skilled jockey who made a lasting impact on horse racing history.

Early Life and Family Background

Ron Franklin, also known as Ronald Franklin, was born on December 20, 1959, in Baltimore, Maryland. He grew up as the youngest of six siblings and although he was small at just 4 feet 7 inches tall and weighing only 72 pounds, Ron showed remarkable strength and determination from a young age.

Living in a busy household with five older brothers and sisters taught Ron important lessons about competition and perseverance early on. These skills would later prove invaluable to him as he chased his dreams in the world of horse racing.

Despite his small stature, Ron didn’t let that stop him from pursuing a career in horse racing. Instead of being discouraged by his size, he used it as motivation to demonstrate that talent and skill could surpass physical limitations when riding these magnificent animals around the racetrack at incredible speeds.

With sheer determination and an unwavering love for horses and racing, Ron Franklin shattered expectations based on his appearance and age. His journey from being the smallest sibling to becoming a successful jockey not only led to numerous victories but also won over many hearts along the way.

Introduction to Racing

In 1976, Ron Franklin began his adventure into the world of horse racing with the help of his neighbor, Hank Tiburzi. It all started at the nearby Pimlico Race Course where he discovered this exciting sport that would soon become a big part of his life. Working as a hot walker for famous trainer Bud Delp, Franklin quickly immersed himself in the complexities and demands of the racing industry.

By taking on various roles within horse racing early on, Ron Franklin showed a natural talent and passion for the sport that paved the way for impressive achievements later in his career. His determination and dedication were evident as he learned alongside experienced professionals, soaking up knowledge like a sponge absorbs water. Despite starting from simple beginnings, Franklin’s unwavering commitment made him stand out from others on the racetrack.

From those first steps at Pimlico Race Course to eventually making history with thrilling wins at prestigious events such as the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Ron Franklin’s journey showcases perseverance and grit in pursuit of excellence. Through challenges faced along his path – both trials and triumphs – he secured his place in horse racing history as a jockey whose talent transcended obstacles encountered during his rise to success.

The Pros & Cons of Racing Legends’ Legacy


  1. Inspiring the next wave of racers
  2. Preserving the legacy of racing icons
  3. Celebrating the rich history and tradition of horse racing
  4. Highlighting the grit and skill of former champions


  1. This could outshine the current achievements in today’s racing world
  2. It might create unrealistic expectations for racers of today
  3. People may start idealizing the past and ignoring current problems in horse racing
  4. There’s a risk of spreading inaccuracies or myths about legendary racers

Kentucky Derby Triumph

When Ron Franklin was just 19 years old, he accomplished an incredible feat by guiding Spectacular Bid to victory in the prestigious Kentucky Derby back in 1979. This win marked his first triumph in one of the U.S. Triple Crown races. The young jockey showcased his talent and determination as he skillfully steered Spectacular Bid through the field with confidence, crossing the finish line ahead of all competitors. Franklin’s victory at such a young age not only highlighted his natural ability for horse racing but also hinted at the promising future awaiting him in his career.

Franklin’s Kentucky Derby triumph wasn’t simply luck; it was a result of his dedication and countless hours spent refining his skills on racetracks across America. His knack for building connections with horses like Spectacular Bid, understanding their subtleties, and responding instinctively to their movements set him apart from other jockeys. The partnership between Franklin and Spectacular Bid was truly special – each race they ran together seemed destined for greatness, culminating in that unforgettable victory at Churchill Downs that captured the hearts of racing fans worldwide.

Looking back now, Ron Franklin’s win at the Kentucky Derby remains etched in history as an iconic moment symbolizing both youthfulness and achievement within horse racing lore. Despite facing challenges later on that may have tarnished his reputation, there is no denying the raw talent and sheer brilliance still evident during those early days atop Spectacular Bid.

His name will always be associated with speed, grace, and untapped potential – a reminder that even amidst adversity, sparks of brilliance can light our way towards greatness.

Preakness Stakes Victory

Ron Franklin’s thrilling victory in the Preakness Stakes after his Kentucky Derby win highlighted his exceptional skills as a jockey. The seamless teamwork between Franklin and Spectacular Bid resulted in an impressive triumph, solidifying their reputation as a powerful duo on the racetrack.

In 1979, at just 19 years old, Ron Franklin achieved a significant milestone with his Preakness Stakes win. His remarkable success at such a young age captured global attention from horse racing fans, earning him acclaim for his expertise and determination in guiding Spectacular Bid to another prestigious victory.

Franklin’s ability to skillfully navigate challenges on the track was evident during his memorable performance at the Preakness Stakes. Despite facing tough competition from seasoned riders, he remained focused and composed, displaying maturity beyond his years while securing yet another major win alongside Spectacular Bid.

By clinching back-to-back wins at both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Ron Franklin solidified his position in horse racing history as one of its rising stars. His early accomplishments served as inspiration for budding jockeys everywhere by demonstrating how dedication, talent, and unwavering passion can propel them towards greatness on their journey in sports.

Legendary Jockey Ronald Franklin: Racing Highlights

Attribute Value
Full Name Ronald Franklin
Occupation Jockey
Born December 20, 1959 in Baltimore, Maryland
Died March 8, 2018 at the age of 58 in Baltimore, Maryland
Career Wins 1,403
Major Racing Wins Heritage Stakes (1978), Laurel Futurity Stakes (1978), World’s Playground Stakes (1978, 1979), J. Edgar Hoover Handicap (1978, 1979, 1980, 1986, 1988), Blue Grass Stakes (1979), Flamingo Stakes (1979), Florida Derby (1979), Fountain of Youth Stakes (1979), Hutcheson Stakes (1979), Cotillion Stakes (1981), Omaha Gold Cup (1983), Ak-Sar-Ben Board of Governors’ Handicap (1983), Fair Grounds Oaks (1985), Riggs Handicap (1986), U.S. Triple Crown series: Kentucky Derby (1979), Preakness Stakes (1979)
Racing Awards Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey (1978)
Significant Horses Spectacular Bid

Belmont Stakes Setback

Ron Franklin faced many challenges during his time in the horse racing world. Despite winning some early races in the Triple Crown series, things took a tough turn at the Belmont Stakes when Spectacular Bid ended up finishing third. Just before the race, an unexpected injury from stepping on a safety pin threw off their chances of winning.

The setback at Belmont showed that even when you’re doing well, unexpected problems can arise. Despite already winning at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Franklin didn’t back down from this challenge. His ability to push through tough times highlights his dedication and love for horse racing – proving that setbacks are opportunities to learn and become stronger.

Although he didn’t win at Belmont, Ron Franklin is remembered as a talented and determined jockey. He captured people’s hearts with his early success in racing circles, establishing himself as one of the best of his era. The setback added depth to his story by showcasing not just victories but also moments where he displayed grit and composure under pressure.

Franklin’s journey is inspiring for anyone facing obstacles along their chosen path. Unexpected hurdles may come our way but it’s how we deal with them that truly shows who we are. Ron Franklin’s lasting legacy remains influential in horse racing history—a reminder that even amidst difficulties, perseverance and self-belief can lead to greatness being achieved.

Career Achievements

Ron Franklin had an amazing career in horse racing, filled with victories and determination. Right from the start at the track, he showed a natural talent that made him stand out. With every race won, Franklin built a legacy that would be remembered for years to come.

Facing challenges was part of Franklin’s journey to success. Despite experiencing many wins, obstacles often appeared along his path to glory. The unpredictability of horse racing tested his skills time and again, but Franklin never gave up on his quest for greatness.

The Kentucky Derby became a platform where Franklin could display his exceptional abilities and drive. His triumphs in this prestigious event captured the attention of racing fans worldwide and established him as one of the sport’s top performers. In addition, his skillful navigation of the challenges in the Preakness Stakes further solidified Franklin’s place in history.

Franklin’s early accomplishments hinted at a promising future full of potential opportunities. As he excelled further in horse racing circles, spectators admired his ability to overcome tough competition and emerge victorious against all odds. Each win not only showcased his talent but also demonstrated the resilience that defined him as a jockey.

Despite facing personal difficulties later on, Ron Franklin’s impact on horse racing remains unforgettable – like lasting impressions left behind by horses running through soft turf: distinct and significant. His outstanding achievements portray not just innate talent but also an unwavering commitment towards refining his skills amidst adversities faced along the way.

Legendary tales of Ron Franklin’s Derby triumphs

  1. Legendary stories of Ron Franklin’s Derby wins:
  2. The record-breaking jockey: At just 19 years old in 1979, Ron Franklin steered Spectacular Bid to victory at the Kentucky Derby, becoming the youngest jockey ever to achieve this milestone.
  3. Undefeated duo with Spectacular Bid: Ron Franklin and Spectacular Bid formed an unstoppable team, triumphing in nearly every race they entered together. Their remarkable partnership culminated in a dazzling win at the 1979 Kentucky Derby.
  4. Overcoming challenges: Despite facing doubts and criticism before the big race, Ron Franklin remained focused and determined. His unshakeable belief in Spectacular Bid proved his critics wrong as they soared to victory.
  5. A special connection with his horse: Renowned for understanding Spectacular Bid like no other, Ron Franklin shared a deep bond with his equine partner that was vital to their success on the track.
  6. Legacy of a Derby champion: Winning the 1979 Kentucky Derby cemented Ron Franklin’s status as a skilled jockey capable of achieving greatness on racing’s grandest stage. His name will forever be linked with Spectacular Bid’s legendary triumph at Churchill Downs.

Struggles with Substance Abuse

After the Belmont Stakes, Ron Franklin’s career took a downward turn due to struggles with controlling his temper and substance abuse issues. These problems led to legal troubles, including an arrest for possessing cocaine outside Disneyland in California. Despite winning early races like the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, these challenges overshadowed what could have been a successful racing career.

Franklin’s battles with substance abuse didn’t just affect his professional life but also caused personal turmoil. As he tried to overcome addiction and regain control of his future on the racetrack, he faced many obstacles along the way.

The setbacks Franklin faced due to substance abuse are a cautionary tale in horse racing. They show how even talented individuals can be sidetracked by their own demons. Success on the track doesn’t guarantee immunity from life’s challenges off it.

Despite enduring tough times, Franklin continued to demonstrate flashes of brilliance whenever he got back on racecourses. His perseverance through adversity showcases his resilience and unwavering love for horse racing.

Ron Franklin left behind a complex legacy – marked by triumphs tainted with personal struggles. While he had some missteps along life’s journey, there is no denying that he made a lasting impact on horse racing history as an enigmatic figure whose story both inspires and warns aspiring jockeys and fans alike.

Legacy and Passing

The passing of Ron Franklin in 2018 marked the end of a significant chapter in horse racing history. Despite facing personal challenges later in life, he left behind a lasting legacy that will always be remembered in the world of sports. His exceptional talent as a jockey was evident from an early age, and it all culminated in his unforgettable win at the Kentucky Derby.

At just 58 years old, lung cancer took Ron Franklin’s life too soon, serving as a powerful reminder of how fleeting life can be. However, despite his struggles towards the end, fans and fellow enthusiasts continue to hold him in high esteem for his contributions to horse racing. His victories on the racetrack are still vivid memories that showcase his skill and determination.

While Ron faced difficulties off the track later on in life, it is crucial not to overlook or diminish his significant impact during horse racing’s golden era. Winning the Kentucky Derby at such a young age was an incredible achievement that solidified his place among legends of the sport. The enduring legacy he has left behind serves as inspiration for aspiring jockeys everywhere – proof that with talent and perseverance, one can overcome even the toughest obstacles on their journey to success


1. What were some of Ron Franklin’s standout performances at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes?

Ron Franklin rode Spectacular Bid to victory in both the 1979 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, demonstrating his remarkable talent and skill as a jockey. His standout performances at these prestigious races highlighted his exceptional abilities on the track.

2. How did Ron Franklin rise to fame in the world of horse racing despite facing personal challenges?

Ron Franklin became famous in the horse racing world because of his amazing skills and early wins as a jockey. He achieved remarkable victories at big races like the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, even though he encountered personal struggles later on in life.

3. What legacy did Ron Franklin leave behind as a talented jockey in the history of horse racing?

Ron Franklin made a name for himself as a skilled jockey in the world of horse racing. He achieved early victories at prestigious events like the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, even though he encountered personal obstacles as he got older.

4. What were some of the key factors that contributed to Ron Franklin’s early success in his career?

Ron Franklin achieved early success in his career thanks to his innate talent, unwavering determination, and bold riding style. These qualities propelled him to triumph at renowned races such as the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

5. How did Ron Franklin’s victories at prestigious races like the Kentucky Derby impact his reputation in the sport?

Ron Franklin became a well-known jockey in horse racing history by winning top races like the Kentucky Derby. His exceptional talent and success in these prestigious events helped him stand out as one of the best riders in the sport.

6. What challenges did Ron Franklin face later in life, and how did they affect his career and legacy as a jockey?

As Ron Franklin got older, he had to deal with problems like drug addiction and getting into trouble with the law. These issues caused his successful career as a jockey to lose its shine and made people forget about all the amazing things he accomplished in horse racing.