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CITATION, 1948: EIGHTH TRIPLE CROWN WINNER

First Millionaire Had Wealth of Success in Winning 19 of 20

Crowning Moments In Horse Racing History

June 03, 1998|BOB MIESZERSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Belmont Stakes

Only 11 horses have won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. With Real Quiet bidding to become the 12th when he runs in the Belmont Saturday, this series looks back at the Triple Crown champions.

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There was so much more to Citation's year in 1948 than winning the Triple Crown.

Of course, winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes was the highlight, but those races represented only a fraction of his victories that season.

Fifty years later, his record still almost defies belief.

Trained by Jimmy Jones for Calumet Farm, the son of Bull Lea won 19 of 20 races in 1948 after winning eight of nine as a 2-year-old.

His only loss at 3 came in his fifth start of the year. He was beaten by Saggy on a muddy track in the Chesapeake Trial Stakes at Havre de Grace in Maryland.

That was the first time he was ridden by Eddie Arcaro, who took over after the regular rider, Al Snider, disappeared--never to be found--while on a fishing trip in Florida.

"It was a terrible day," Jones said. "Normally, I would have scratched him, but Eddie had flown all the way from California. He misjudged the pace a little bit, then some old bushwhack rider carried him wide on the turn.

"He was pushed out to the fence. By the time he shook loose, Saggy had got away to a [big] lead. [Citation] came running, but he got beat a length."

Five days later, Citation got his revenge in the Chesapeake Stakes, winning by 4 1/2 lengths. It was the start of a 16-race victory streak that didn't end until he lost a six-furlong allowance race at Santa Anita on Jan. 26, 1950. Citation did not race in 1949 because of ankle and tendon problems.

The Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes were his third, fourth and sixth wins during the streak and all were accomplished with ease.

Coupled with stablemate Coaltown, who ran second, Citation won the Derby under a hand ride over a sloppy track. It was the only Derby run with no place or show betting.

The same was true in the Preakness two weeks later. Only three horses took on Citation and he romped, but before the Belmont, Jones ran him in the Jersey Stakes at Garden State Park in New Jersey.

Citation, who went on to become racing's first millionaire, won by 11 lengths in track-record time, then, 14 days later, against seven opponents in the Belmont, won by eight. He did so despite stumbling at the start and tied the stakes record (2:28 1/5) set five years earlier by Count Fleet.

"At 3, Citation could fall down at the eighth pole and get up and beat any horse in the world," Jones once said. "He could just do everything better than any other horse."

Jones' late father, Hall of Famer Ben Jones, the colt's trainer for the Kentucky Derby, might have summed up Citation best in one prerace proclamation.

"Citation will win," he said, "because . . . he can catch any horse he can see, and there's nothing wrong with his eyesight."

Citation died at Calumet in 1970.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

TRIPLE CROWN WINNERS

May 26, Sir Barton: 1919

May 28, Gallant Fox: 1930

May 29, Omaha: 1935

May 30, War Admiral: 1937

May 31, Whirlaway: 1941

June 1, Count Fleet: 1943

June 2, Assault: 1946

Today, Citation: 1948

Thursday, Secretariat: 1973

June 5, Seattle Slew: 1977

June 6, Affirmed: 1978

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1948: THE BREAKDOWN

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Date Race Distance (Time, Margin, Odds, Purse) May 1 Derby 1 1/4 miles (2:05 2/5 3 1/2 lengths 2-5 $83,400) May 15 Preakness 1 3/16 miles (2:02 2/5 5 1/2 lengths 1-10 $91,870) June 12 Belmont 1 1/2 miles

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THE CHALLENGERS

The top three finishers in the races in 1948 and the $2 mutuel payoffs:

KENTUCKY DERBY

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1. Citation $2.80 Out Out 2. Coaltown Out Out 3. My Request Out

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PREAKNESS

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1. Citation $2.20 Out Out 2. Vulcan's Forge Out Out 3. Bovard Out

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BELMONT

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1. Citation $2.40 $2.30 $2.10 2. Better Self $3.70 $2.10 3. Escadru $2.10

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CITATION'S CAREER

(1947-48)

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Starts 1st 2nd 3rd Purses 45 32 10 2 $1,085,760

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