Owner of Triple Crown Winner Spectacular Bid Dies
Harry Meyerhoff, co-owner of the great Spectacular Bid, passed away February 18 from stroke complications. He was 86.
Mr. Meyerhoff lived on Hawkworth Farm on the Miles River and grew up in Baltimore. He graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and received a degree in Engineering from Lehigh University where he was an All-American lacrosse player.
Mr. Meyeroff developed numerous garden apartments in the region in the family’s real estate development business, and had a love a thoroughbred racing. He began buying race horses in the 1960’s focusing on his racing interests in the mid-1970’s and owned 320 thoroughbreds during his lifetime.
The most famous of his horses was Spectacular Bid, the 1979 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, who would win 26 of his 30 lifetime races. Spectacular Bid was a 1-9 favorite in the Preakness Stakes with just four challengers. He drew away on the far turn and won going away nearly setting the track record.
“Being from Baltimore, we had a lot of fun winning the Preakness, maybe more fun than winning the Kentucky Derby,” said his son and co-owner Tom Meyerhoff.
The president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Josh Pons, recalled Spectacular Bid as “an all-Maryland story”, who was owned by Mr. Meyerhoff and trained by Buddy Delp from Harford County and ridden by Ronnie Franklin from Dundalk.
Heavily favored to win the 1979 Belmont Stakes — and thus take the Triple Crown — Spectacular Bid injured himself on a safety pin the night before the race and wound up finishing third.
In 1980 he ran in the Woodward Stakes in New York in an odd contest: No other horse ran against him, and he completed a rare walkover. He did not compete again but went on to earn $22 million in stud syndication.
Spectacular Bid won racings highest honor as the 1980 Horse of the Year.
Mr. Meyerhoff continued his interest in racing and attended sales at Keeneland until 2014.