The Triple Crown Legend: Citation

Citation, an American thoroughbred racing horse, has become a renowned name in the horse racing community particularly as a Triple Crown champion. Born on 11 April 1945, Citation was owned by Calumet Farm located in Kentucky's Lexington. A bay colt born to Hydroplane and sired by Bull of Lea, Citation is a legend.

One of the great thoroughbred race horses, Citation is renowned in horse racing, especially for winning the Triple Crown in 1948. After Citation’s win in 1948, the world had to wait a quarter of a century until Secretariat captured the crown again in 1973. Born on April 11, 1945, Citation lived on Calumet Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. The bay colt was born to Hydroplane and sired by Bull of Lea.

Horace A. “Jimmy” Jones trained Citation to be a top racing steed. At two years old, Citation won his first race at Havre de Grace in Maryland. In fact, during the year, Citation won 8 of the 9 races he entered. Prize winnings were $155,680.

During 1948, Citation became the hit of the racing scene by defeating Armed, the 1947 Eclipse Award Horse of the Year. Although trained by Jimmy Jones, Citation entered the Kentucky Derby, with the listed trainer being Ben Jones. Jimmy sacrificed his training spot so his father could tie the record set for the greatest number of Kentucky Derby wins listed for a specific trainer.

Ridden by jockey Eddie Arcaro, Citation won the 74th annual Kentucky Derby by 3 1/2 lengths. From there, he went on to win the Preakness Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths. He won again at the Jersey Derby and gained another win at the Belmont Stakes, becoming the eighth winner of the Triple Crown.
At only 3 years of age, Citation counted 27 wins out of 29 starts to his illustrious name. Although he was named Horse of the Year in 1948, he could not race in 1949 because of injuries. When he returned to the track in 1950, he won the Golden Gate Mile Handicap. However, the racing season during 1950 was not nearly as impressive as Citation’s previous accomplishments.

In 1951, Citation jumped into the spotlight again, winning the Hollywood Gold Cup. In fact, that same year, Citation became the first thoroughbred millionaire. He also retired from racing in 1951, and, during retirement, sired many outstanding thoroughbreds, including Silver Spoon and Fabius. Inducted in the Racing Hall of Fam in 1959, Citation died in August 1980 at the ripe old age of 35.

The Hollywood Turf Gold Cup

A race that reignited Citation’s career was the 1951 Hollywood Turf Gold Cup. It is now referred to as the Gold Cup of Santa Anita. This grade 1 race is run over a dirt track at Santa Anita, located in Arcadia, California. The 1 1/4-mile race is open to horses 3 years old and older.

The Gold Cup was initially run in 1938 in Hollywood Park and was run there every year, with the exception of the War Years of 1942 and 1943. The last running at Hollywood Park took place in 2013. Because of the closing of the park in 2013, Santa Anita hosted the second Gold Cup. Santa Anita also hosted a Gold Cup race in 1949 after the grandstand was destroyed by fire at Hollywood Park.

Besides the Pacific Classic and the Santa Anita Handicap, the Gold Cup serves as one of the influential races in California for older racing horses. A colt, named Quack, set a world record on the Hollywood Park track in 1972, stopping the clock at 1:58.20. In 2009, the contestant, Rail Trip, set the stakes record for running on a synthetic track, clocking the distance in 2:00.75.

The first horse to win the Hollywood Gold Cup was Sea Biscuit in 1938 – his only time on the track. When Citation ran and won in 1951, the winner’s purse made the great horse the first racing champion to surpass the $1 million mark in career earnings.

A Winning Period

A lot of wins took place in the 1970’s at Hollywood Park under the tutelage of horse trainer Charlie Whittingham. Whittingham’s horses won five editions of the race and four races in succession. Winners included Ack Ack in 1971; Quack in 1972; Kennedy Road in 1973; Tree of Knowledge in 1974, and Excellar in 1978. The 1978 Triple Crown Winner, Affirmed won the 1979 Hollywood Gold Cup. He won the Santa Anita Handicap the same years as well.

Three successive editions of the Hollywood Turf Gold Cup were won by Native Diver from 1965 to 1967, and, most recently, by Lava Man from 2005 to 2008. Back in 1938, when Sea Biscuit won the first Hollywood Cup race, the purse was $55,650. The recent racing event in 2020 was won by the horse, Improbable, whose purse was $300,500.
Mare and Fillies Who Won the Gold Cup

During the history of the Gold Cup, only three mares or fillies have won the event (as of 2020). They include Happy Issue in 1944; Two Lea in 1952; and Princessnesian in 1968. It seems the track is a better match for colts and stallions than for fillies and mares.

Breeder’s Cups Events

The track for the Hollywood Gold Cup in Santa Anita has hosted the Breeder’s Cup event as well. The Breeders’ Cup World Championships is a yearly series of Grade 1 horse races overseen by the Breeders’ Cup Ltd., which was created in 1982. In the beginning, the event was held one day each year, from 1984 to 2006. It expanded to 2 days in 2007. All the racing sites have been in the U.S. with the exception of one race, in 1996, at the Woodbine Racetrack in Canada.

Attendance usually only trails the crowds attending the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes during the racing year. In 2016, the track at Santa Anita had a record attendance when the Breeder’s Cup was hosted there. The event was held for the first time at Del Mar in 2017.

History in the Making

Regardless of the site for a horse race, there is always history in the making, whether it is the attendance, the purse, or the skills of the horses and riders. Horse race events always give enthusiasts a good run for the money.

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