Remembering Citation’s Triple Crown run on 75th anniversary of his Derby domination

Published: May. 4, 2023 at 2:22 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Before Secretariat became America’s Horse, the sport hadn’t seen a Triple Crown winner since 1948.

That colt was Citation, and he stole America’s hearts during the age before mass television access.

“America knew that they needed to love Citation because of the radio and the newspapers,” Sean Collins, assistant tour manager at the Kentucky Derby Museum said. “He was constantly on the radio. He was constantly on the front page of the newspaper.”

Citation stood out, even if most never saw him run.

“That’s just how good he was; something drew you in,” Collins said. “Then, if you had the chance where if you lived near where he was running, well, it was time to pack the racetrack full and get as close of a look as you could of such a great horse.”

Collins said Citation wasn’t particularly impressive to look at, but his legendary trainers Ben and Jimmy Jones said he was one of the smartest horses they had worked with.

What his trainer said set him apart was his mind, his intelligence level,” Collins said. “He wasn’t necessarily the flashiest of horses. He wasn’t the prettiest of horses. But you could tell when he would go out there and train... that he was just picking up on everything.”

Citation’s jockey in the Kentucky Derby was a legend himself, Eddie Arcaro, still the winningest Kentucky Derby jockey ever.

“He was one of the ones that famously said, ‘He ran so fast he scared me.’” said Collins. “That’s how great of a horse Citation was.”