Final Bid

By Ron Franklin -- It was Feb. 4, 1978, the first race of my career. Race 4. No. 4. I won by four lengths. My big horse at the time was Tiger Castle. Wow, he could really run.

Springtime was rolling around and the 2-year-olds were coming off the farms. I can remember the seven or eight that came from Middleburg, Va. They were all grand looking, but one stood out, a steel-gray colt I took a liking to right away. All horses are special to me--I love them all. I remember Gerald Delp, Mr. (Bud) Delp's son, saying, "Dad, this horse is going to win the Kentucky Derby." He always had a good eye for nice horses.

Time goes on...Bid starts progressing nicely. He would walk on the track, stand on his hind legs, and kick out his front legs, like saying to the others, "Here I am."

He won his first start and from there developed into a fine animal. He started beating everything around. So, it's off to Florida. The big races heading for the Triple Crown. One race in particular stands out, the Florida Derby. In trouble twice and he still pulled away from the field in fine fashion. A lot of controversy came after. I almost lost the mount.

It was my first year and racing against top riders can be intimidating. But I learned quickly, and riding was so natural to me. I was able to stay on Bid. After Florida, we headed to Kentucky for the Blue Grass Stakes. Bid was just unbeatable.

The Derby was thrilling and I was nervous. A veteran jockey on the horse next to me in the gate could tell I was nervous. He said, "Kid, when the gates open, you'll be OK." Well, everything was OK. I kept Bid in a clear path and when it was time to go, man did he go. He took off around those other horses like they were standing still. Wow, what a feeling.

Bid won the Preakness two weeks later and since I'm a Baltimore boy, I think that one was the most special for me. (It's the last time I won on him.)

The Belmont came fast and bad news had arrived also. A nightmare. Bid had stepped on a safety pin and it got lodged in his foot. That was the morning of the big race. Anyway, during the warm-up, I knew he just wasn't the same. From time to time still to this day I get criticized for the way I rode him. It was just a bad day and all was not well. He finished third and was beaten by a horse he'd already beaten for fun.

So, after the long road and all the times he won for me, it was time to say goodbye. I was taken off him, and in a way at the time, was relieved. I had a lot of fun times with Spectacular Bid and we enjoyed each other's company. He especially liked when I brought him a powdered sugar donut. He loved them since the he had first come to Mr. Delp's barn in the spring of 1978.

I especially loved Bid for the enjoyment he brought to my life and our relationship as a team.

Just imagine a horse. Now put wings on that horse. That's what I thought of Spectacular Bid. That's the way I know him and remember him. Yes, he could definitely fly.

My days of riding Bid were exciting, a dream come true. Winning the Derby and Preakness were and will always be the highlights of my life. Not everything was peaches and cream. Some of my life's personal problems came at me hard. Things that I thought I loved at the time have plagued me time and again.

Today, I am able to steer people in the right direction. A program in Baltimore helps allow me to do that. Courage to Change is a place that's helped me, and many like me. The director, Lawrence J. "Larry" DeAngelis, has helped me and so many people recover from a disease (addiction) for which there is no known cure. However, with Larry's help and Courage to Change in my life, I can arrest my disease a day at a time. I say goodbye to Spectacular Bid until that day comes when we meet again.