Citation was among several promising Calumet Farm youngsters who became the top 2-year-old colt of 1947. Cigar never raced as a juvenile.
Citation captured the 1948 Kentucky Derby en route to sweeping the Triple Crown, starting a 16-race winning streak that included defeating older horses. Cigar won only two of nine times as a 3-year-old, running mostly on the grass in 1993.
Cigar lost his first four races in ’94 and was switched back to the dirt, where he started his 16-race winning streak. Citation didn’t race as a 4-year-old because of injuries.
Cigar earned nearly $10 million in his lifetime, more than $9.3 million during the 22-month winning streak that ended Aug. 10, 1996. Citation only made a little more than $1 million, with nearly $650,000 earned during his 21-month winning streak that ended Jan. 26, 1950.
Both champions have one thing in common -- they are immortalized in sculptures at South Florida tracks.
The Citation statue, crafted by fourth generation Italian sculptor Thomas Famiglietti, was unveiled in January 1965 at Hialeah Park, where he won four races. Cast in a foundry at Florence, Italy, and two years in the making, the statue stands on a marble base in the center of the lily pond by the paddock on the clubhouse side.
The Cigar statue, created by artist Cindy Wolf, was unveiled on Feb. 2, 1997 at Gulfstream Park, where he won four races. Sculpted in Kentucky and less than a year in the making, the statue stands in the Garden of Champions in the north paddock area behind the grandstand. Track announcer Tom Durkin presided over the ceremony, which included a tribute by actor John Forsythe, a racing enthusiast.
Last spring, Hialeah officials announced they were setting up a Wall of Fame a half-century after Citation won the Flamingo Stakes.
The inductees, in addition to Citation, were the trainer and jockey who guided him during most of his career: H. A. “Jimmy Jones” and Eddie Arcaro.
Jones, who also accepted a plaque for Citation during the April 2 ceremony, said: “He was such a pleasure to train. Citation was the greatest.”
Robert Arcaro, accepting the plaque for his father who passed away last fall, echoed the same sentiments for his dad: “He had the highest regard for Citation. He said there were none better than the Jones Boys (father Ben and son Jimmy).”
Ironically, Arcaro wasn’t aboard Citation in the ’48 Flamingo. Jockey Al Snider was.
Citation only lost once that year in the Chesapeake Trial at Havre de Grace.
“Al Snider was going to ride for us,” Jimmy Jones recalled three decades ago. “He went down to Florida to fish in the Keys. A storm came up and drowned him. I called Eddie Arcaro. I said it him, ‘How would you like to get on the [Kentucky] Derby winner?”
The race at the Maryland six weeks before the Derby came up muddy. Citation broke on top, but Arcaro took him back to third. Jones had told Arcaro, “Remember, the main thing is, this is the stepping stone to the Derby. I’d rather get beat if you have to knock him out of the Derby to win.”
Citation lost by a length to Saggy when forced wide going six furlongs. He didn’t lose another race in 16 outings. Arcaro was aboard 14 of those victories.
Cigar tied the 16-race North American record in a $1 million stakes at Arlington International Race Course, located outside of Chicago, on July 13,1996. More than 34,000 turned out.
It was appropriately called the Arlington Citation Challenge. Jerry Bailey rode Cigar to victory in 15 straight races after Mike Smith was aboard when the streak started with an allowance win at Aqueduct Race Course.
I saw both horses race at least once.
In the summer of ’48, my father took a wide-eyed 13-year-old to old Arlington Park, where Citation defeated 20 older horses in the Stars and Stripes Handicap.
I saw Cigar win his fourth straight race on Feb. 11, 1995, when all eyes at Gulfstream Park were on ’94 Horse of the Year Holy Bull. They were neck and neck down the backstretch in the Donn Handicap when Holy Bull went lame and was pulled up with a career-ending injury. I saw Cigar win the Donn again a year later.
Each champion has been good for horse racing.
Too bad Skip Away is retiring at the end of the year. Horse racing sure could use another champion to end the century.