His trainer, Grover "Bud" Delp, famously dubbed him "the greatest horse to ever look through a bridle." While fans of Man O'War, Citation, and Secretariat might disagree with that statement, there is no question that Spectacular Bid is among the greatest Thoroughbreds in the history of the turf.
A son of Bold Bidder and Spectacular, he was brilliant at two, winning seven of nine starts and finishing worse than third only once. Five of his wins were in graded stakes (three of them alone were at the Grade I level), and his season was highlighted by dominant wins in the Grade III World's Playground and Grade I Laurel Futurity. He thoroughly outclassed his opposition in both events, and his overall resume netted him top juvenile honors for 1978.
If The Bid was brilliant at two, he was electrifying at three. Based in Florida He breezed through his Kentucky Derby prep races, winning from either on the lead or from off the pace. First came the Fountain of Youth Stakes (Grade III), then the Florida Derby (Grade I), the Flamingo (Grade I), and Blue Grass Stakes (Grade I). No one could stop him at Gulfstream and Hialeah that winter and spring, and those outings made Spectacular Bid the odds-on favorite for the 1979 Kentucky Derby.
He made good on the support given to him in Louisville, rallying from far off the pace to win the contest. He did the very same thing two weeks later in the Preakness Stakes, and that put him in position to become racing's third straight Triple Crown winner.
Alas, it wasn't to be. On the morning of the Belmont Stakes, Spectacular Bid reportedly stepped on a safety pin, but was cleared to race. Whether the pin bothered him is unknown, but he could not finish any higher than third after getting caught up in a blazingly fast pace for the Belmont's 1 1/2 mile distance.