Citation, 1948

Charles Hatton on 1948 Horse of the Year and Triple Crown winner Citation from the 1949 American Racing Manual.

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To say that Citation was the unanimous choice for “Horse of the Year” honors in 1948 hardly expresses the popular opinion of him in the fullest sense. The rank and file felt that he was a Horse of the Ages, one to be remembered along with Sysonby, Colin and Man o’ War. Of course, there is only one way of proving this particular point, and it involves a lapse of 30 or 40 years, but it may be said that Citation is a most exceptional performer. For example, he is the only colt to win the Futurity or the Derby Trial and then win the Derby itself. It seems the qualities which are a prerequisite of Futurity and Derby winners are rarely to be found in the same horse.

Citation was no pampered, “glass case” champion of the sort that goes about picking easy races. He won eight of his nine starts at two, and 19 of 20 at three. Distances and track conditions seemed not to matter to him in the least, nor was his campaign confined to the classics, though he took the “Triple Crown” and American Derby in stride. Citation beat older sprinters in a handicap in February, older middle distance horses in record time in the Stars and Stripes Handicap in July, and older routers at weight for age in the Jockey Club Gold Cup in October. He ran in track record time at Arlington Park, Garden State Park, and Tanforan, paid the minimum $2,20 mutuel return eight times, and became the first horse to win as much as $709,470 in a single season.

In short, Citation proved quite capable of doing anything horses do a good deal better than his contemporaries, and a recitation of his achievements is bound to sound a little prodigal. He is the antitype of the “excuse horse,” but his admirers can easily excuse him for the two defeats that are charged against him. It is conceivable that he might have won the Washington Park Futurity, which was taken by his stablemate, Bewitch, had his jockey clucked to him and instant sooner, and that he might have beaten Saggy in a sprint at Havre de Grace in the spring of 1948 except for being carried rather wide curving for home. But then defeat comes to all horses who chance it often enough.

Perhaps and Stars and Stripes Handicap was the only really hard race thus far in Citation’s career. He had wrenched a hip muscle a few weeks earlier, was trying to concede actual weight to older rivals at a mile and a furlong, and was under the whip for almost the length of the stretch. It is to his credit that he did not flinch when the test came and won by two lengths in 1:49 1/5, which equaled the Arlington mark. Citation, having proved that he could do it, trainer H. A. “Jimmy” Jones announced that further handicaps were not for him. It seemed the prudent decision with Fervent and others in the same barn and weight-for-age events in the offing.

In the course of his campaign Citation proved himself a remarkably versatile sort of racing tool. Many of our champions have showed a marked partiality for either stretch running or front running. In the Derby, Warren Wright ran both Citation and Coaltown, hoping “the best horse wins.” Coaltown left the backstretch lengths before Citation with no intention of stopping, but to everyone’s amazement Citation ran him down in the furlong around the last turn. In the Preakness he reversed this technique, moving casually into the lead at the break and galloping his field into submission.

Colt of Excellent Disposition and Admirable Conformation

Wright and the Joneses describe Citation as a splendid doer, of the sort who never misses an oat after a race and promptly drops off to sleep. He is not at all washy in the paddock nor rank at the post, but does everything in a workmanlike fashion. Nothing seems to perturb him, and indeed he inclines to loaf in his races once he runs out of horses to beat. This is a characteristic of others of Teddy’s male line who have raced in America, notably Gallant Fox and his brother Foxbrough.

Citation is a colt of admirable conformation, a rich bay of about 16 hands, and rather more rangy than short coupled. He girths 74 inches and weighs 1,075 pounds when thoroughly fit. There is nothing angular about him, and at two he was as big as a bull. His only markings are a bit of white on each coronet behind. His flank is a little longer than most, and he is more straight over the loin than saddle backed. His pastern are at the right angle, and he has the sound hoof that is characteristic of the Bull Leas. Citation has medium bone, and his record attests his inherent soundness, for he was in training almost continually from from the time he was a yearling until he popped an osselet at Tanforan.

One of the best things about Citation is his action. It is neither trappy nor particularly long, averaging 25 feet in extended stride, but he can move from a gallop into full flight as smoothly and swiftly as a high powered motor car. He seems always to be “in cadence,” as the French say. His muscular equipment is not unusual though it certainly is adequate. The msucle is long and supple, not thick and bulging.

Citation hardly is typical of either the Bull Leas or the get of his maternal grandsire, Hyperion. Bull Lea has somewhat less quality, and the Hyperions are less substantial, on the whole. Citation’s pedigree contains none of the old-fashioned American strains. It is an amalgam of French and English lines. His dam, Hydroplane II, was not a very successful racemare. Conversely, the next dam, Toboggan, won the Epsom Oaks, but was not a signal success at stud. Citation is a combination of the best factors in his pedigree, such as the inexact science of bloodstock breeding hopes for but seldom achieves.

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