Suddenly the pixie came out in Meyerhoff. "Please tell your father," he said, "that I hope he has the happiest day of his life tomorrow. And also that I'd love to have Seattle Slew, too."
Spectacular Bid is turning out to be a tremendous drawing card at Santa Anita. His first two races there brought out more than 90,000 people, and his next two starts should do even better—even though they'll also be very bad betting propositions. When Meyerhoff and trainer Bud Delp were told that their horse went off at 1 to 98, both seemed stunned. "One to 98," Meyerhoff said, "I didn't know there was such a figure. Things like that can make you nervous."
By winning the San Fernando and surpassing Round Table on the alltime money-winning list, Spectacular Bid moved into fourth, behind Affirmed, Kelso and Forego. Bid now needs $618,901 to catch No. 1 Affirmed, and Delp has no doubts about his plans. "Our intention is to establish a new earnings record," he says. "We figured the way to accomplish that was to start the year in California because the purses are excellent." Indeed they are. Even without competing on the grass, Bid could still run in races that have purses totaling $1,675,000, and that's only through the $400,000 Hollywood Gold Cup in June.
"Spectacular Bid will run 11 or 12 times this year," Delp says. "The Strub is next, then the Santa Anita Handicap and at least two races at Hollywood Park, probably one in Chicago, maybe one at Delaware Park and the Marlboro Cup, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont in the fall. Should all go according to schedule. Bid's last race will be in the Meadowlands Cup in New Jersey in the fall."
By that time he should have broken the money record by a wide margin. Affirmed started nine times in his 4-year-old campaign, and the only two defeats he suffered came in the Malibu and San Fernando. Spectacular Bid's Malibu on Jan. 5 was a smashing race, in which he won just as he pleased in track-record time of 1:20 for seven furlongs, and he missed the world record for the distance by only [1/5] second.
Delp is a much more subdued man than he was a year ago when he was leading the world in outrageous quotes and polyester clothing. "I love California," he says. "I've got a house about 10 minutes from Santa Anita, and it has a heated pool, a fireplace and a Jacuzzi. Hell, even Bid seems laid back. He's put on about 100 pounds since last year, and he knows who he is: Big Daddy. Now he's won his first two races out here, and they were just like preseason football games. They were nice to win, but the big things are ahead. I want to win 50 races with all my horses between Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, and that's pretty hard to do. [Last year only three trainers accomplished it.] I've been claiming a lot of horses [$155,000 worth] to build up a stable out here. And well if I don't win those 50 races. I'm not going to roll over and die. I know that Bid will win his races. He won the San Fernando so easily that I could run him back in four days. Spectacular Bid does the talking for me now."
Well, some of the time.