But only Coastal looked a spoiler. All the other Belmont starters had had at least twice as many races this year, some even three times as many. In the past decade the fresh-horse stratagem had not worked, but in the '50s and '60s several horses that hadn't run in either the Derby or the Preakness came on to win the Belmont. Cavan won the 1958 Belmont when Tim Tam broke down, Quadrangle defeated heavily favored Northern Dancer in 1964 and Stage Door Johnny surprised Forward Pass in 1968.
To some, Coastal seemed to be in the race merely to make it more interesting for the bettors. Perry is a longtime owner and breeder and his young trainer, David Whiteley, is a very conservative man, not known for asking his clients to supplement to races. But Coastal had been impressive in winning the Peter Pan at Belmont some two weeks earlier and had been doing well in workouts. Still no one expected him to be the colt to prevent Bid from becoming the third straight Triple Crown winner, following Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in '78.
For the first quarter mile of the Belmont Jockey Ruben Hernandez had Coastal in fourth place. As Spectacular Bid headed into the stretch, Hernandez moved Coastal in along the rail and began his run. Bid's three-length lead disappeared quickly, and he was suddenly joined by Golden Act on the outside and Coastal on the inside. Coastal easily overtook Bid and coasted in by 3� lengths in 2:28[3/5], well above Secretariat's track record of 2:24 in 1973. Golden Act, third in the Derby and second in the Preakness, passed the flagging Bid a few strides before the wire, nipping him by a neck for second money, worth $59,180. Coastal earned $161,400 and Bid $32,280.
Since February, Franklin had been able to take Spectacular Bid wide of his fields without ever enduring a hard fight in the stretch. "I knew I couldn't go outside Spectacular Bid," Hernandez said later, "because I would be out far too wide. When the opening was there, I just shot through it."
The outcome of the Belmont didn't surprise Sandy Hawley, Golden Act's rider. "The campaign is so tough," Hawley said, "that you wonder how any horse can ever win the Triple Crown. Horses ship and work out and then have to go through three very tough races in five weeks. Coastal just flew by both of us. My horse was tired at the end of it and so was Spectacular Bid."
Franklin patiently endured a painful press conference after the race, answering every question, including those about a paternity suit recently filed against him. And he could hear the taunting voice of Jockey Angel Cordero (who finished seventh on General Assembly) over the jockey room P.A. system congratulating Hernandez and proclaiming, "I told you no horse is unbeatable. Every turkey has his Thanksgiving." The bad blood between Franklin and Cordero had been evident since February's Florida Derby, and it had erupted anew Wednesday in a jockeys'-room brawl. A bumping incident coming out of the gate for the fourth race led to the fight, which cost the riders $250 each in fines.
Franklin stared straight ahead during Cordero's outburst Saturday and said, yes, he had had lower moments in his life: "After the Florida Derby, even though I won." Following that race, Bud Delp called his rider an "idiot" for his poor ride, and Franklin has been hearing variations on that theme ever since.
Immediately after the Belmont, as Franklin walked to the jockeys' room, he was booed. Several fans even threw rolled-up programs at him. Half an hour later, as he headed back to the barn to rejoin Delp and return to Baltimore, he said, laughing, "Don't nobody stay too close to me, I might get plucked off."
According to Delp, though, Franklin won't be plucked off Bid in his next start, probably the Jim Dandy in August at Saratoga. "Sure I'll keep Ronnie on him," Delp said. "It's his horse. The jockey can't carry the horse, the horse must carry the rider. If you're not prepared to lose in this business, you better get yourself into another profession. Spectacular Bid will win a lot more races before this year is over."
But probably none at 1� miles.