Spectacular Bid holds such a margin of superiority over his seven rivals in the Flamingo Stakes Saturday that even jockey Ron Franklin should not be able to find a way to get him beaten.
Yet Franklin, rather than the horse himself, will be the principal object of attention at Hialeah today.
The 19-year-old almost lost his job as Spectacular Bid's rider after his embarrassingly bad performance in the Florida Derby. But after several days of indecision, trainer Bud Delp announced that Franklin would stay on the horse.
Franklin says, "I just know he's the best horse that ever lived.I'm sittin' on a Rolls Royce."
Because his main concern will be to avoid making mistakes, Franklin is sure to ride Spectacular Bid in a defensive fashion. When the horse drew the outside post position, No. 8, Thursday, Delp said, "That usits me very good. I'd just as soon he raced on the outside all the way. There's less chance for trouble."
Franklin agreed. "I'll just take him to the outside and keep him clear."
That strategy could be suicical competition. Horses racing on the inside part of the track have enjoyed a tremendous advantage throughout the Hialeah meeting. Horses who stay on the outside all the way usually lose. Just last week the well-regarded 3-year-old, General Assembly, was beaten as a 1-to-10 favorite when he stayed too far from the raile.
Franklin has never been attuned to such subtleties, and he has not displayed any comprehension of the Hialeach track bias. (he has not yet won a race here.) But that will not matter Saturday. Spectacular Bid's reputation has dissuaded the trainers of all the decent 3-year-olds in Florida from running against him.
General Assembly left town to run in the Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct Sunday. Lot O'Gold, runner-up in the Florida Derby, is preparing to run in the Arkansas Derby.
Of the challengers in Saturday's field, only one, Sir Ivor Again, has ever won a stake. And he lost to Spectacular Bd by nine lengths in the Florida Derby, despite all the trouble that Franklin created for the winner.
The others in the Flamingo field are King Celebrity, Dauphin, Native Sir, Need More Time, Gallant Serenade and Strike the Main.
Recognizing the weakness of the competition, Delp has not trained Spectacular Bid exceptionally hard for the Flamingo. The colt's major workout was six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 -- child's play for him -- and today he completed his preparations with a half-mile move in 48 3/5 seconds. As he was leaving the treack, another horse who was galloping almost collided with the champion, leaving Delp momentarily shaken. But that should be the traner's last anxious monent of the weekend.
Spectacular Bid figures to win by about 15 lengths, and so viewers who see the race on ABC's "Wide World of Sports" (WJLA-TV-7) at 5:13 p.m. should not be overly impressed by the ease of his victory.
A more meaningful gauge of his performance will be the time of the race. If Spectacular Bid can break 1:47 for the mile and one-eighth, he will become only the second horse in Hialeah history to accomplish that feat.