December 20, 1959 |
|Major racing wins|
|Kentucky Derby (1979), Preakness Stakes (1979), Florida Derby (1979), Blue Grass Stakes (1979)|
Franklin was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up in nearby Dundalk, he was the youngest of six children. He attended Patapsco High School where he briefly played on the school's baseball team. Because he was so small in stature (4 feet, 7 inches and 72 pounds), the coach would insert him into the line-up, hoping to draw a base on balls. In fact in 17 at bats he walked 9 times. Franklin dropped out of high school when he was 16 years old. As mentioned earlier, small in stature, Franklin set off for the local racetrack in 1976, looking for work as a jockey. There he met trainer Bud Delp. Delp hired him as a stablehand where he learned the business from the ground up. He cleaned stables, walked horses and did other odd jobs around the track. Franklin was later sent to a training center in Middleburg, Virginia, there, he learned to ride yearlings.
On February 4, 1978, Franklin, riding in his first race aboard Pioneer Patty, won at Bowie Race Course in Maryland. His second career win was aboard Deficit. In his first year of racing, Franklin won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey.
In 1979, at the age of 19, Franklin mounted Spectacular Bid and won the Kentucky Derby, the colt's 11th consecutive win. Two weeks later he followed up the Derby win with a win in the Preakness Stakes and became the favorite to win racing's Triple Crown at Belmont Park.
Two weeks later Franklin and Spectacular bid were off to the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in the New York. A win there would catapult both to thoroughbred racing's highest honor: the Triple Crown; and would see the third Triple Crown winner in succession. Spectacular Bid, however, finished third behind Coastal and Golden Act. In the mile-and-a-half race Spectacular Bid moved rather early and tired noticeably in the stretch. Franklin was blamed for the loss, most notably by the horse's trainer, Bud Delp. Nine days later, Franklin was arrested for possession of cocaine outside of Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Franklin rode 1,403 winning mounts in 9,242 starts from 1978 to 1992, and won purses of more than $14 million, but he never rode Spectacular Bid again, being replaced by Hall of Fame Rider Bill Shoemaker.
- Bossert, Jerry (2011-09-02). "Ronnie Franklin, who missed out on Triple Crown with Spectacular Bid in '79, is pulling for I'll Have Another". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
- Klingaman, Mike (2004-05-02). "Franklin Recalls Ride of His Life". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
- Boyle, Robert (1979-05-19). "Scorecard". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
- "Eclipse Awards, 1971-present". Thoroughbred Racing Association. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
- Leggett, William (1979-05-14). "A New Bid For A Triple". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
- Harasta, Cathy (2007-01-09). "For veteran jockey Ron Franklin, a spectacular bid for a second chance". USA Today. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
- Blagden, Nellie (1979-07-09). "A Drug Bust, a Paternity Suit—Troubles Come in Battalions for Jockey Ronnie Franklin". People Magazine. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
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