Sunday, October 30, 2016

Citation - The Gold Standard in Horse Racing

Horse racing history is so fascinating and I hope others love it as much as I do.  Citation is certainly one of the all time greats.  He raced under the Calumet Farms colors (Warren Wright, Lexington, KY) and was probably their greatest horse and they owned many great ones. He was born in 1945.

Calumet Farms' owner Warren Wright came up with the idea of the horse who would become Citation.  He matched two relatively undistinguished racehorses to produce him. The sire was Bull Lea, who finished a disappointing eighth as a 3-1 second choice in the 1938 Kentucky Derby. Wright figured he might be able to create a decent racehorse by matching Bull Lea with an overseas mare. So he purchased Hydroplane II. The unlikely pair produced a bay colt and the rest is history.

Another tidbit that is interesting but tragic. Citation's regular jockey, Albert Snider, was killed tragically in a boating accident in Florida in early 1948.  He never made it to the Triple Crown and was replaced by a relatively unknown young jockey named Eddie Arcaro.  They raced together in the mud at Havre de Grace (Maryland), the only race Citation would lose for almost two years (they were second). 

Citation won the Triple Crown in 1948 (Secretariat would be the next horse to win the three races in 1973) and also won an amazing 16 consecutive races in major stakes race competition.  He was the first horse to ever win a million dollars.  Racing in the late 1940's a million dollars was a huge amount of money then. In those days horses raced a lot more than they do today, even the top ones.  So it was not unusual to run a race several times in a month.  Trainers used races to get their horses ready for the big stakes races.

Citation ran an amazing 45 races, won 32, finished second 10 times and was third twice.  How incredible is that record?  Some say Man O War was the greatest race horse of all time but he ran only at age two and three, won $250K, making him the leading money winner of his day, and lost only one of his 21 races.  Five of his starts were against only one horse. You decide.

He was trained by the famous "Jones Boys" a father and son team that produced an impressive stream of horses for Calumet.  Both went into the Hall of Fame.  Citation was also inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame.  You can find the link here.

Citation retired after the Hollywood Gold Cup. He was not as good a sire as he was a race horse.  But as a sire at Calumet Farm, he produced a number of noteworthy offspring including the Hall of Fame filly Silver Spoon,  Get Around (won $164,868), Guadalcanal (won $243,337) and 1956 Preakness Stakes winner Fabius.

While at stud at Calumet Farm, he was said to be afraid of his owner's Yorkshire Terrier, Timmy Tammy. The dog reportedly nipped at him on several occasions.

He died on August 8, 1970, at the age of 25 and was buried in the horse cemetery at Calumet Farm.

Incidentally, Dwayne Wallace, Chairman of Cessna Aircraft, named his business jet, Citation, in honor of the great racehorse.  Hints of Citation's legacy can be found in the jet's logo in the form of a horseshoe background. Even today, pictures of Citation line the hallways of Cessna's buildings. A famous statue of Citation can be found at Hialeah Park.


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