Citation Horse Racing’s First Millionaire

April 1st, 2019

Few race horses reach legendary status. If you don’t believe that statement, think about Justify. Although Justify won the Triple Crown last year, nobody puts him in the same league as American Pharoah, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, or Affirmed.

Justify didn’t get a chance to climb the ladder to legendary status even though he became only the thirteenth Triple Crown winner in history. Competing on racetracks, taking down huge purses, and, yes, even winning the Crown, doesn’t automatically make you a legend.

Legend horses do something magical. Zenyatta won 19 races. Cigar won 16 races in a row while Man o’War dominated his competition the way we hit flies with fly swatters.

The legend we profile here will always remain one of the greats no matter what happens. Citation held the record of most victories in a row before Cigar tied it and Zenyatta broke it. He also won the Triple Crown, which might make him the greatest horse to have ever run in North America.

Citation Was the Toughest Horse in History

Even if he wasn’t the greatest horse to ever run in the Western Hemisphere, he most certainly was the toughest. Citation racked up his 16 race winning streak, mostly in high-level stakes or graded races, in the span of two years. Think about how crazy that is.

Most horses run 3, 4, maybe 6 if they’re strong enough, races in a year. Citation won 16 races spanning two years. He did it by racing every 3 weeks. Trainer Ben Jones and then his son, Hall of Famer Jimmy Jones, believed the best way to keep a horse fit was to run the horse.

They did so by entering Citation in the best races they could find. If there wasn’t a stake race to run Citation in, they’d go for the money in an allowance. That’s how they kept him ready to run.

Citation ran so many races because every time he ran, he’d keep in shape. The next time he ran, he’d be in just as good of shape as the time he ran before. Sounds crazy, but makes sense.

Human beings do the same thing. Don’t we have a workout schedule? Citation’s workout schedule was winning races and taking down scores.

Magical Triple Crown Year of 1948

He won the Triple Crown in 1948. After winning the 1 ½ Belmont Stakes, he ran three weeks later in the Stars and Stripes and won. Three weeks after that, he ran in an allowance and won.

Think about this: Citation ran and won in nine more races after winning the Triple Crown. Most horses that win the Belmont Stakes rest up until the Travers. Or, they might even skip the Travers and run in a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Citation Ended His Career With Three Straight Wins

Although Citation had a case of seconditits in 1950, he ran second 7 times in 8 races, he bounced back at the end of his career in 1951. The unbelieve Citation won his final three races, all at Hollywood Park.

He took home an unnamed race and then beat his stablemate, the lightly raced mare Bewitched, in both the American Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup. Bewitched had beaten Citation in the Washington Futurity when they were 2-year-olds in 1947.

As horseplayers we must remember our favorite sport’s history. By doing so, we remind ourselves why the rush of excitement overtakes use when horses turn for home and head to the wire.