05/23/2012 12:56PM

Triple Crown Winners: Citation



Unlike Assault, the ultimate overachiever, Citation was expected to win the Triple Crown of 1948. Nothing less would be tolerated. Triple Crowns were being won with regularity in the 1940s, and if any horse had the look, it was Big Cy of Calumet Farm.


Citation was an outstanding 2-year-old, winning eight of nine races. He was even better after turning 3, when he blew away his opposition in the Flamingo Stakes.

Bad karma ensued, however, when his jockey, Al Snider, disappeared in a boating accident off the Florida coast. Eddie Arcaro replaced Snider and promptly lost his first collaboration with Citation in a prep for the Chesapeake Stakes.

By the time they got to Louisville, though, Arcaro and Citation were in perfect sync. They won the Derby by 3 1/2 lengths under wraps, defeating Calumet’s other monster, Coaltown. At Pimlico, only three showed up to try Citation. They left quietly after Citation won by 5 1/2 lengths.

Between the 1948 Preakness and Belmont stretched a gap of four weeks. Trainer Ben Jones was hardly shy about running his star colt, so Citation killed time by winning the 1 1/4-mile Jersey Derby by 11 lengths. After that, the Belmont was more like a floor show than a horse race. Citation won by eight lengths, and, in a fitting reunion of Triple Crown alumni, among those he defeated were horses owned by King Ranch, Belair Stud, and Glen Riddle Farm.


OWNER: Calumet Farm
JOCKEY: Eddie Arcaro
BREEDER: Calumet Farm

His 16-race winning streak is famous, but his career included tow other impressive streaks. He started off with five straight victories, then after a second in the Washington Futurity, added seven more in a row, including Hialeah’s three Triple Crown preps. After being stunned at 1-5 in the Chesapeake Trial by Saggy, he launched his 16-race string, which included the Triple Crown, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Pimlico Special by walkover. At the end of this 3-year-old campaign he was 27 for 29 with two one-length losses. He returned at age 5 and 6 in California and produced a much spottier record: he was 2 for his first 13, winning just the Golden Gate Mile. His career ended on an up note, however, with three straight victories including the Hollywood Gold Cup. He retired as racing’s first millionaire.

Profiles of Triple Crown winners

Sir Barton (1919) Gallant Fox (1930) Omaha (1935) War Admiral (1937)
Whirlaway (1941) Count Fleet (1943) Assault (1946) Citation (1948)
Secretariat (1973) Seattle Slew (1977) Affirmed (1978) ?