In this article we're going to briefly go over the career of one of the most famous horses in racing history, Citation.
If you look past the losses that Citation sustained at the end of his career, this has to be one of the greatest horses in racing history if you simply look at its accomplishes. Citation was a horse that was not only blessed with blind speed but with great staying power. The horse just never tired. Add to that a killer instinct that literally killed him past the other horses and this horse was almost unbeatable until he just got too old to do it anymore.
Over the course of Citation's career there were many changes. After the patriarch of Calumet Farms, Warren Wright, died, trainer Ben Jones started to hand over more responsibility of handling Citation to his son Jimmy. He absolutely took this horse to a place where no other horse had been to that time; Retiring as a millionaire in 1951. Unfortunately, the losses he sustained in the last 2 years of his career greatly diminished what he had accomplished in the eyes of others.
The truth is, racing was never easy for Citation in spite of his natural talent. Injuries kept him completely out of the 1949 racing season. To compound matters, Warren Wright's dying desire that Citation retire a millionaire kept this horse racing into his sixth year when most other horses would have already been long retired. In spite of all this, Citation somehow managed to shake off the defeats late in his career and win his final three races, something nobody expected him to be able to do. His final victory was the Hollywood Gold Cup, which was the race that put him over the million dollar earnings bracket, the only horse to ever reach this plateau.
Warren Wright was actually more responsible for the great horse that Citation became than anyone realizes. It was his choising to breed Bull Lea, a less than successful triple crown winner, and Hydroplane II, a horse he purchased from Lord Derby in the spring of 1941. Obviously, this pairing was a work of pure genius on Wright's part.
Citation's career began in 1945 with great fanfare. By the time he reached his 3 year old season in 1947 he was honored as racing's Horse Of The Year. That year he won the Flamingo Stakes and Everglades Handicap and he was on a seven race winning streak.
But the pinnacle of that year was when Citation won the triple crown, winning the Kentucky Derby by 3 1/2 lengths, the Preakness by 5 1/2 lengths and the Belmont Stakes by an amazing 11 lengths. With that victory, Citation became racing's 8th triple crown winner.
But he was not through. Citation won 9 more starts in 1948. By the time his 3 year old career had ended Citation had won 27 races and came in 2nd twice in 29 races.
Citation died on August 8, 1970, at the age of 25. He was truly one of the greatest.