By Myra Lewyn

Harry Meyerhoff, owner of 1980 Horse of the Year and dual classic winner Spectacular Bid, died Feb. 11 of stroke complications at the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton. He was 86.

Meyerhoff campaigned 1979 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner Spectacular Bid along with his then-wife, Teresa, in the name of Hawksworth Farm, located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Meyerhoff acquired the son of Bold Bidder, a winner of 26 of 30 starts, for $37,000 at the 1977 Keeneland September yearling sale. Under the care of Hall of Fame trainer Bud Delp, the colt fell short of the sweeping Triple Crown, finishing third to Coastal as the 3-10 favorite in Belmont Stakes (gr. I) after stepping on a safety pin that became embedded in his hoof the morning of the race. He went unbeaten in nine starts at age 4, including a walkover in the 1980 Woodward (gr. I), and was named Horse of the Year. He earned more than $2.7 million.


Meyerhoff began buying horses to race in 1961 with his brother, Robert Meyerhoff, with whom he found great success in the business of developing residential real estate.

Born in Baltimore, Meyerhoff was a 1947 graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and earned an engineering degree at Lehigh University, where he was named an All-American in lacrosse.

Meyerhoff owned more than 330 horses during his time as an owner, but nothing approached the success of Spectacular Bid, who was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1982.

In a column published by his alma mater, Meyerhoff’s advice for choosing a racehorse was simple: “Look for a horse with good parents and good legs.”

On Monday, just days after Meyerhoff’s passing, Marengo Road, a horse he owned in partnership with his son Tom, won the Miracle Wood Stakes for three-year-olds at Laurel Park.

“Racing really lost a hero,” said winning trainer Michael Trombetta in the winner’s circle after the Miracle Wood. “He was a wonderful man.”

In addition to his brother Robert, Meyerhoff is survived by his sons Tom (Cynthia Volk) and Jack (Jill), his daughter Karen Sweet (Robert W. Jr.), his stepson David Williams, five grandchildren, and three step-grandchildren. Meyerhoff’s wife, Mary Jo, died of a stroke in 2013.


Story courtesy of The Blood-Horse.  In order to provide our readers more complete coverage of the Thoroughbred industry, The Racing Biz and The Blood-Horse have crafted a content-sharing agreement allowing each the ability to post stories originally published by the other.