Spectacular Bid took another stride along the road to the Kentucky Derby today, winning the Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He did it in a manner that indicated he is every bit as good as a 3-year-old as he was during his championship 2-year-old season.
The colt ran away from the closest of his three rivals by 3 3/4 lengths, covering seven furlongs in a swift 1:21 2/5, three-fifths of a second off the track record. He prepared himself perfectly for the three Florida stakes races that trainer Buddy Delp has chosen to use as stepping stones to the Triple Crown series.
The 17,374 fans at Gulfstream took Spectacular Bid's victory for granted, making him the 1-to-20 favorite, but Delp did have one small cause for worry. A sudden shower doused the track, and Spectacular Bid had never won before on a wet racing strip.
Under jockey Ron Franklin, Spectacular Bid broke alertly from the inside post position and raced alongside speedster Northern Prospect. When the horses hit the turn, Northern Prospect spurred two lengths ahead, giving the favorite's backers a moment of alarm.
But Spectacular Bid accelerated suddenly and blew past the leader, and was never threatened by the stretch rally of Lot O' Gold, who finished second.
"He was down there on the inside, and that's not the best part of the track," Delp said. "But he ran big. He beat speed with speed. I am only sorry we didn't break the track record, but the rain cost us that."
The victory was Spectacular Bid's sixth in a row, extending the streak that started last fall and gave the Maryland-bred colt the championship of his generation. He won his final races so easily that he discouraged other horsemen from challenging him. And he is doubtless discouraging more of them this winter.
Before the Hutcheson, Delp had given Spectacular Bid a 6 1/2-furlong workout form the gate, and the colt's 1:15 2/5 clocking missed the track record by only two-fifths of a second. "I tried to scare them in the work," Delp said, and he did an effective job. Most of the well-regarded 3-year-olds here stayed in their barns today.
"Trainers think a lot alike, and if I wouldn't want to run against him," watched Spectacular Bid today, I wouldn't want to run against him," Delp said. "I don't think those three horses he beat today will come back against him. We're going to run in the Fountain of Youth (Feb. 19), the Florida Derby and the Flamingo Stakes."