By Mint Julep

Spectacular Bid Before and Beyond the Kentucky Derby

kentucky derby winner 1979 spectacular bid

Experience the incredible journey of Spectacular Bid’s career, starting from his lineage tracing back to Bold Ruler and Promised Land. Follow his rapid rise in the racing world as he conquers victories at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes while aiming for the Triple Crown. Dive into his unbeaten streak as a four-year-old, cementing his title as American Horse of the Year. Uncover Spectacular Bid’s lasting impact after retirement, from his successful breeding history to being honored with induction into the United States Racing Hall of Fame.

Early Life and Family Background

Spectacular Bid was born on a cold day in February 1976 at Buck Pond Farm, surrounded by a lineage of champion horses. Bred by Madelyn Jason and Mrs. William Gilmore, this chestnut colt inherited his fiery spirit from Bold Bidder, a top stakes winner sired by the legendary Bold Ruler himself. His dam was equally impressive—a gray mare named Spectacular who descended from Promised Land and had roots tracing back to the renowned broodmare Fly By Night in Thoroughbred Family 2-d.

From his early days playing in the fields of Lexington, Kentucky, Spectacular Bid showed natural grace and athleticism hinting at future greatness. He embodied raw talent along with an unwavering will to win—an irresistible blend that captured attention across the horse racing world. As he grew into his strong frame under careful guidance at Buck Pond Farm, those who saw him knew they were witnessing something truly special unfolding before them.

The bloodlines running through Spectacular Bid’s veins seemed destined for racetrack glory—the perfect mix of speed and stamina passed down through generations of champions. With each step he took during training or leisurely runs around the farm grounds, it became increasingly clear that this young colt possessed all qualities needed to become a star among stars—a rising talent ready to leave an unforgettable mark on horse racing history.

Whispers spread about this up-and-coming equine prodigy with a shiny chestnut coat and limitless potential; excitement built for his debut on racecourses across America where legends are born: fans eagerly anticipated their first glimpse of what would soon be known far and wide as “Spectacular Bid.” Amidst these initial stirrings of fame lay countless untold chapters waiting to unfold—each hoofbeat drawing closer towards destiny while paving new paths toward sports immortality.

In those crucial years refining his skills under expert guidance at Buck Pond Farm—a breeding ground for champions—it became abundantly clear that Spectacular Bid was no ordinary racehorse; he was destined for unparalleled greatness.

Racing Record

Spectacular Bid was a standout in the world of horse racing, winning an impressive 26 out of 30 races he competed in. He raked in a whopping $2,781,607 throughout his career, setting new records along the way. His most notable victories include claiming the esteemed Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes titles back in 1979 as part of his pursuit for the Triple Crown.

In 1980, Spectacular Bid soared to new heights by winning all nine races he entered that year. This incredible achievement not only showcased his dominance on the racetrack but also led to him being named American Horse of the Year. People around the globe were captivated by his flawless performances, ensuring that his name would be remembered for years to come as a legend in Thoroughbred racing.

Each race Spectacular Bid ran was like a perfectly orchestrated symphony – a seamless blend of power and finesse that left spectators mesmerized by this magnificent creature’s skill and determination. The racetrack served as his platform where he effortlessly outshined competitors with grace reminiscent of legendary horses before him.

Even now, decades later, Spectacular Bid is more than just a champion; he represents resilience, perseverance, and unwavering spirit synonymous with sporting excellence. His legacy goes beyond mere numbers; it stands as a testament to dedication and natural talent converging in one extraordinary animal whose legacy remains etched into iconic racetracks worldwide – forever honoring an icon who once brought unmatched glory to audiences everywhere through dazzling displays on tracks across continents.

The Pros & Cons of Racing Legends


  1. Fans are amazed and inspired by horse racing

  2. Horses display their incredible athleticism

  3. Horse racing honors its rich history and traditions

  4. Spectators enjoy thrilling entertainment at the races

  5. Talented jockeys have a chance to showcase their skills

  6. Racing enthusiasts come together in camaraderie


  1. Horses and riders risk getting injured

  2. People exploit animals for entertainment

  3. Expectations on horses to perform at high levels are intense

  4. Some may treat horses unethically in the pursuit of winning

  5. Betting on races can lead to addiction and financial ruin

  6. The environmental impact from maintaining racecourses is significant

Stud Record

When Spectacular Bid left the racetrack for the breeding shed, everyone had high hopes. He was syndicated for a record $22 million and started his stud career at Claiborne Farm with a fee that matched his amazing racing achievements. At first, he seemed like he would be a great sire, siring horses like Bite the Bullet and Maison Close who showed off their speed on the track.

But as time went by, Spectacular Bid’s success as a stallion faded. His later offspring didn’t live up to his impressive racing days, which led to fewer people wanting to use him for breeding at Claiborne Farm. Eventually, he moved to Milfer Farms in New York where he spent his final years before passing away in 2003. Despite struggling to maintain his earlier success as a stallion, Spectacular Bid continued to hold a special place in many fans’ hearts who remembered watching him race during his prime.

The transition from racing star to successful sire isn’t always smooth sailing – even legendary horses like Spectacular Bid faced challenges along the way. While some might only focus on numbers and data when measuring success, there’s something truly special about horses like him who made lasting impressions both on the track and in breeding sheds alike. Even though Spectacular Bid may not have achieved all aspects of greatness after retiring from racing compared to dominating on the track; every step he took continues resonating through history books alongside stories shared among dedicated fans recalling witnessing true greatness embodied by four-legged stars.

Legacy and Honors

Spectacular Bid was truly one of the greatest racehorses in American history, ranking an impressive #10 in The Blood-Horse Top 100 U.S. Thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century. He earned his spot among elite horses by showcasing unmatched skills on the track, captivating audiences with each stride towards victory.

Inducted into the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 1982, Spectacular Bid’s legacy continues to shine brightly today. His impact goes beyond just statistics; it resonates deeply with those who witnessed his remarkable displays of speed and stamina.

His enduring influence on Thoroughbred racing serves as a reminder that greatness like his knows no bounds. Spectacular Bid inspires both new fans and seasoned enthusiasts alike with stories of triumph and glory that define what it means to excel on the racetrack.

Reflecting on Spectacular Bid’s career reminds us not only of his unparalleled achievements but also of the lasting legacy he has left behind for future champions to aspire towards. With every accolade received posthumously or otherwise, Spectacular Bid stands tall as an icon whose excellence will forever shape how we perceive greatness in Thoroughbred racing.

Legendary Racehorse Achievements

Attribute Data
Sire Bold Bidder
Grandsire Bold Ruler
Dam Spectacular
Damsire Promised Land
Sex Stallion
Foaled 17 February 1976
Died June 9, 2003 (aged 27)
Country United States
Colour Brown (young), Grey (old)
Breeder Madelyn Jason, Mrs. William Gilmore
Owner Hawksworth Farm
Trainer Bud Delp
Record 30: 26-2-1
Earnings $2,781,608
Major wins Champagne Stakes (1978), Laurel Futurity (1978), Young America Stakes (1978), Hutcheson Stakes (1979), Fountain of Youth Stakes (1979), Flamingo Stakes (1979), Florida Derby (1979), Blue Grass Stakes (1979), Marlboro Cup (1979), Strub Series (1980), San Fernando Stakes (1980), Santa Anita Handicap (1980), Mervyn Leroy Handicap (1980), Californian Stakes (1980), Washington Park Handicap (1980), Amory L. Haskell Handicap (1980), Woodward Stakes (1980), American Classic Race wins: Kentucky Derby (1979), Preakness Stakes (1979)
Awards American Champion 2-Year-Old Colt (1978), American Champion 3-Year-Old Male Horse (1979), American Champion Older Male Horse (1980), American Horse of the Year (1980)
Honours United States Racing Hall of Fame inductee (1982), #10 – Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century, Spectacular Bid Stakes run at Gulfstream Park

Injury and Retirement Following Belmont Stakes

After the Belmont Stakes, Spectacular Bid accidentally stepped on a safety pin, causing an infection that needed immediate treatment post-race. Despite leading for most of the way, he finished third due to this unexpected challenge. While his Triple Crown dream came to an end there, it didn’t diminish his overall success in racing.

The incident at Belmont was heartbreaking for fans who had been amazed by Spectacular Bid’s talent throughout the season. The infection from the safety pin mishap prevented what could have been a historic Triple Crown win. However, Bid’s legacy remained strong thanks to his outstanding performances leading up to that point.

Following the setback at Belmont Stakes, Spectacular Bid continued to be recognized as one of horse racing’s top competitors. His resilience and skill were evident in every race before this unforeseen turn of events occurred. As fans looked back on his career after the injury, they couldn’t help but appreciate all he had achieved despite facing such challenges.

Injuries are part of any athlete’s journey – even for magnificent creatures like Spectacular Bid. While many pondered “what if” about his potential Triple Crown victory, they also celebrated everything he had accomplished prior to that twist of fate altering history’s course—proof that greatness isn’t just about winning but how champions tackle obstacles with determination and grace.

International Success Beyond U.S.

Spectacular Bid’s incredible wins around the world amazed fans beyond just America, proving his skill on a global level. Eddie Arcaro expertly guided him through big races like the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto and the Washington D.C. International at Laurel Park Racecourse, showing they could handle different tracks with ease. Battling against top European horses not only showcased Spectacular Bid’s adaptability but also cemented his reputation as a truly elite racehorse.

His adventures in international competitions highlighted Spectacular Bid’s exceptional talent and competitive drive that went way past borders. At the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine, he stood out among tough competitors from all over, solidifying his legacy as a versatile champion hungry for success. Going to new tracks didn’t scare this remarkable pair; it only made them more determined to conquer challenges and make their mark worldwide.

The Washington D.C. International was another chance for Spectacular Bid to shine against strong rivals from across the globe. This event proved once again how smart Eddie Arcaro was in guiding them towards victory even on unfamiliar turf, showcasing their ability to excel no matter where or who they were up against.

In these important overseas races, Spectacular Bid showed why he wasn’t just respected in American racing but internationally too—a true symbol of excellence who brought pride back home while captivating audiences globally with performances that turned horse racing into an art form.

Legendary Tales of Spectacular Bid

  1. ### The Epic Story of Spectacular Bid

  2. **Undefeated at Age 2**: Spectacular Bid had an outstanding season as a two-year-old, winning all six races in 1978, including the Young America Stakes and Laurel Futurity.

  3. **Breaking Speed Records**: Known for his lightning-fast pace, Spectacular Bid set a new track record at the Kentucky Derby in 1979 by finishing the 1 1/4 mile race in just 2:

  4. **Almost Winning it All**: Despite being a top favorite, Spectacular Bid placed third in the Preakness Stakes in 1979, narrowly missing out on capturing the Triple Crown after wins at the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.

  5. **Hall of Fame Honors**: In 1982, Spectacular Bid was rightfully honored with induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, solidifying his status as one of racing's greatest legends.

  6. **Success Beyond Racing**: After retiring from competition, Spectacular Bid excelled as a sire with many stakes winners to his name; passing down his exceptional abilities to future generations of champion racehorses.

Contributions Post-retirement

After retiring from horseback riding in 1962 due to health issues like severe bursitis, Eddie Arcaro stayed active in the horse racing world by creating the Jockeys’ Guild and fighting for jockeys’ rights. He then moved on to television commentary, where he shared his knowledge beyond just riding horses.

In his post-riding career, Arcaro secured endorsement deals such as becoming a spokesperson for Buick Motor Division, helping popularize their slogan “If you price a Buick you’ll buy a Buick.” Furthermore, he delved into owning successful Italian restaurants, showcasing his business skills outside of the racetrack scene.

Later in life after retirement brought health challenges that eventually led to Eddie Arcaro’s passing at home in Miami on November 14th, 1997. His journey was marked by outstanding accomplishments and contributions that had a lasting impact on the Thoroughbred world and sports history.


1. What made Spectacular Bid's performance in the Kentucky Derby so remarkable?

In the Kentucky Derby, Spectacular Bid amazed everyone with his incredible performance. He easily left behind all other horses, showing off his unmatched speed and style. His record-breaking run still stands today as proof of how truly amazing he was.

2. How did Spectacular Bid's career unfold after his victory at the Kentucky Derby?

Spectacular Bid kept on winning after his amazing victory at the Kentucky Derby, showing his dominance in the world of racing by triumphing in both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. This impressive streak led to him being crowned Horse of the Year in 1980.

3. What were some of the key races where Spectacular Bid showcased his exceptional talent?

Spectacular Bid showed off his incredible skills in races like the Kentucky Derby, where he crushed the competition with an outstanding performance. He also set a new track record at the Marlboro Cup and demonstrated his versatility by winning races over various distances at the Woodward Stakes.

4. How did Spectacular Bid's legacy influence future generations of Thoroughbred racing?

Spectacular Bid still motivates upcoming generations in Thoroughbred racing with his incredible skills, track dominance, and lasting influence as one of the best racehorses ever.

5. What challenges did Spectacular Bid face during his career, and how did he overcome them?

Spectacular Bid tackled obstacles like injuries, debated race strategies, and sky-high expectations. But he powered through with his remarkable skills, fierce determination, and the steadfast backing of his devoted team.

6. In what ways did Spectacular Bid leave a lasting impact on the world of horse racing beyond his time on the track?

Spectacular Bid left a lasting mark on the horse racing world that goes beyond his impressive wins. He still motivates upcoming generations of Thoroughbred fans, showing them what excellence looks like and how to strive for it.