BALTIMORE (AP) Ronnie Franklin, who rode Spectacular Bid to victory in the 1979 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, has died. He was 58.
Franklin’s nephew, Walter Cullum, said the former Maryland-based jockey died of lung cancer on Thursday.
Franklin was 19 when he guided Spectacular Bid to victory as a 3-5 favorite in the Kentucky Derby. After winning the Preakness by 5 + lengths, Franklin’s bid to capture the Triple Crown ended at the Belmont when Spectacular Bid finished third.
It was a crushing defeat, but Cullum said Franklin labeled his time aboard Spectacular Bid as “the highlight” of his career.
“He was so proud of that,” Cullum said.
Soon after that, Franklin battled substance abuse. But Cullum insisted Franklin “had been clean for years” before his death.
Cullum said Franklin was working with horses in California when diagnosed with cancer in March 2017. Franklin returned to Baltimore to receive treatment, and he and Cullum spent many an afternoon crabbing.
Cullum was 5 years old when Franklin rode Spectacular Bid, and his uncle’s success inspired the young boy to follow in his footsteps. Cullum had more than 4,000 mounts before retiring in 2010.