Seven years after Whirlaway donned the Calumet red and blue silks and swept the Triple Crown, a leggy 3-year-old bay bearing the same colors strode onto the track at Havre de Grace for the $29,000 Chesapeake Stakes, which marked the beginning of a 16-race winning streak that lasted until 1950.
The 1948 Kentucky Derby was run over a sloppy rain-soaked track, conditions that favored Citation’s stablemate Coaltown, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes. But when his jockey Eddie Arcaro called, Citation answered. Charging past his stablemate, “Big Cy” went on to an easy 3 ½-length score. Two weeks later, he galloped off to a 5 ½-length victory over Vulcan Forge in the Preakness, and tuned up for the Belmont Stakes with an 11-length win in the Jersey Derby.
On Belmont Stakes Day, he was sent off as the 2-5 favorite over seven rivals. He stumbled at the start, then bounded into the lead with his competitors a length behind. On the far turn, Citation made his move. The Belmont crowd roared, as after being five lengths in front at the top of the stretch, Citation hit the wire in front of Better Self, tying Count Fleet’s stakes record of 2:28 1/5. Before 1948 was over, Citation would win 19 of 20 starts, 17 of them stakes. Although hindered by arthritis, he returned to the races in 1950, winning an allowance at Santa Anita before his legendary winning streak came to an end.
Citation retired the next year; he had become racing’s first millionaire, with a bankroll of $1,085,760 and a record of 32-10-3 from 45 starts. Inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 1959, Citation died on Aug. 8, 1970 at the age of 25 and is buried at Calumet Farm.