Episode 53: On Spectacular Bid's Hard-knock Life, Racehorse Research & Writing Muscle with Peter Lee (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 53: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet Spectacular Bid: The Last Superhorse of the Twentieth Century author Peter Lee. You'll learn ...
Watch Peter Lee's Interview on YouTube!
Or Listen to the Audio Only Version.
About Author Peter Lee
Peter Lee, a former journalist, is a writer for Past the Wire, a horse racing blog. He has also written for Horse Racing Nation, and excerpts of his book have appeared in the Blood-Horse. He is also the author of the novel The Death and Life of Mal Evans and has maintained the music blog Hooks and Harmony for the past 12 years. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Peter Lee Podcast Interview Excerpt
Carly: Your book examines Spectacular Bid from his humble beginnings, born in a mud puddle on a horse farm in Kentucky, to becoming one of the greatest American racehorses. Tell us about this book. Why Spectacular Bid?
Peter: Spectacular Bid: The Last Superhorse of the Twentieth Century is really a story of David versus Goliath, which is what makes horse racing so fascinating. This horse was just a diamond in the rough. Spectacular Bid didn't have a great pedigree on his mother's side. He was born in a mud puddle and almost drowned in that mud puddle. He was not a beautiful horse growing up. He was sold for only $37,000.
The owners were from Maryland, so they took a Maryland trainer and a Maryland jockey, and went into Kentucky and New York and took the racing industry by storm. A lot of people didn't like that. It is a story of a horse that really wasn't supposed to make it, trainer and a jockey that a lot of people looked down on, and how they they made history with Spectacular Bid.
Carly: A safety pin kept Spectacular Bid from becoming the 11th horse to take The Triple Crown in 1979. Without giving away your book, can you share about what happened to him involving a safety pin?
Peter: There really was a safety pin! A lot of people think that the trainer Bud Delp used the safety pin as an excuse for why Spectacular Bid finished third in the Belmont Stakes. There was a safety pin in the stall the morning of the Belmont Stakes and Spectacular Bid actually stepped on it. Delp took the the pin out, watched him walk around, and thought everything was okay, but it actually affected his run.
He only ran on one lead for the entire race, and if you know anything about horse racing, it's kind of like carrying a briefcase through an airport for the entire way in one hand. It gets really tiring. That's a definitely something that affected Spectacular Bid and led to his defeat. He didn't race again for another almost three months, so it really did affect him.
Carly: Spectacular Bid actually did go on to win 26 of 30 races during his career. That's nothing to sneeze at. What do you think made him have such success given that he didn't have the pedigree?
Peter: I had a chance to talk to William Nack, the great writer for Sports Illustrated, who also wrote the book on Secretariat that became a movie, and he told me that Spectacular Bid had several different gears that he would engage in a race. He could kick it into the next gear, pass the next horse, and just when you thought he was out of it, here came another gear. He would have several of these gears during the race.
He won 26 of 30 races including an undefeated four-year-old season. He won 12 races in a row at one time and 10 races in a row. It takes a special horse to win races in a row, including an undefeated four-year-old season, and he holds the record for a mile and a quarter for the Strub Stakes in 1980 when he ran it in 1:57 and four fifth seconds. It's still a record. One that's been on the record books for 40 years, so it was something that not even Secretariat could touch.
Spectacular Bid 1980 Strub Stakes (World Record Time)
Carly: What advice would you offer aspiring authors?
Peter: You have to go where your loves and your passions are. That's definitely what I did. Go where your passion is because that makes the writing of the project a lot easier. It makes the research fun. It takes you in directions that you really didn't know you're going to go in, and the writing takes on a form of its own where you're actively involved in what's going on with the writing and the characters. You actually feel them, especially with the horse. I can't recommend it enough. I couldn't write a book about economics, so following my passion is something I have to do.
Even though I'm between books right now and I'm promoting the Spectacular Bid book, a writer still has to write. I make it a routine to get up each morning and write something. You're really not a writer unless you write. Whether it's stream of consciousness writing, whether it's journaling, or whether it's just writing a little short story based on a writing prompt, I've found that it's good to keep those writing muscles exercised and in shape, so that when you do start your next book or novel that you'll be ready to to make it happen.
Carly: Is there anything that a listener might be surprised to learn about you?
Peter: I am a big music junkie and maintain a blog called Hooks and Harmony, which is based on 80s music and melodic pop sort of like the Beatles. I write for that regularly. My first book, The Death and Life of Mal Evans, was an alternate history of what might have happened if the Beatles had stayed together during the 1970s. It's totally different from Spectacular Bid, but again you have to go with your passions. My passions are music and horse racing.
Connect with Author Peter Lee
Books by Peter Lee
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About Your Podcast Host Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning independent author, horse owner, creativity coach, and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast. She helps fellow writers start, grow, and expand their author careers. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle!
Carly's award-winning In the Reins equestrian romance book series was written with horse lovers in mind, no matter which discipline they ride. The horses are as vital to moving the story forward as the human characters are.
These books are perfect for poolside reading, taking to the beach, or settling down with after a day of horseback riding.
Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!