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Citation: In a Class by Himself Hardcover – March 3, 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's hard not to compare this straightforward story of 1948 Triple-Crown winner and racing legend Citation with Laura Hillenbrand's elegant and uber-selling Seabiscuit. But Georgeff's book, which differs greatly in both tone and style, should be judged on its own merits. A racing insider, Georgeff holds the Guinness World Record for most horse races called (over 96,000), and his prose reflects his experience in its narrative immediacy and snap-crackle-pop. In describing Citation, Georgeff writes, "If he were a matinee movie idol he'd be Harrison Ford as opposed to Clark Gable. For pure beefcake, he'd be Bruce Lee, not Arnold Schwarzenegger." The author of And They're Off! uses conversations with jockeys, trainers and other racing folk from the 1940s on to bring Citation's story-and by extension, the sport's story-to life. One of Calumet Farm's many sons of Bull Lea, Citation lost only twice in 29 starts in his first two seasons. After his stunning three-year-old season of 1948, Citation had a tougher time-he was injured; he lost some heart-breakers. His owner's insistence that Citation be a million-dollar winner (indeed, he was racing's first) kept him racing when he might have been put to stud, but Citation was a champion, a horse of both speed and stamina. Georgeff's writing is generally brisk, though he waxes overly poetic here and there. "Fame, like life, is sweet and awfully short," he writes of the untimely death of Citation's first jockey, Al Snider. "The young rider at that exact moment in time rode tall in the saddle as king of American jockeys, only to have all his hopes, dreams, and joy dashed abruptly in a horrific whirlpool of surreal mystery." Despite such missteps, Georgeff's admiration and affection for Citation, often hailed as "The Greatest Thoroughbred Who Ever Lived!," is catching, and his raw enthusiasm for the sport will excite any fan. 16 pages b&w photos.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Citation profits from the unique and rich writing style of Phil Georgeff, who's lived it. Name any horse or jockey of the last 60 years, and the man has innumerable first-hand stories of them. (Publishers Weekly)

His writing style makes for a very entertaining yet informative read, perfectly suited to the subject at hand. ...his complete order of finish is one that every race fan would enjoy reading and debating over. Georgeff's work is strongly recommended to all racing fans especially history buffs. His aim was to ensure that Citation is never forgotten, and through this book he won't be. (Horse-Races.Net)

...Georgeff's admiration and affection for Citation...is catching, and his raw enthusiasm for the sport will excite any fan. (Publishers Weekly)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing (March 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0878332928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878332922
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #789,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Tymn VINE VOICE on December 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It appears that this book and those on other great horses was inspired by the interest in the book and movie on Seabiscuit. However, Seabiscuit was not in Citation's class.
As a long-time follower of the "sport of kings," I consider Citation as the greatest thoroughbred ever. Had Citation been retired at the end of his three-year-old season, as were Man o'War and Secretariat, he would have had a record of 27 wins in 29 races, the two second-places losses easily explained. That record is more impressive than those of Man o' War and Secretariat, the two horses usually rated higher than Mighty Cy in polls of racing experts. Unfortunately, Mighty Cy's owner wanted to make him the first million dollar winner and brought him back as a five-year-old, after more than a year's layoff. Clearly, the horse lost something in that long layoff and was the not the competitor he was as a two- and three-year-old, winning only five of his next 16 races before finally going over the million dollar mark. When comparing Cy with Man o' War and Secretariat, it seems only reasonable to consider only his two- and three-year-old seasons. Who knows what those two horses might have done as five- and six-year-olds?
Author Georgeff captures the greatness of Citation, appropriately referring to him as "the greatest thoroughbred in modern history" and "in a class by himself." I couldn't put the book down once I started on it.
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Format: Hardcover
When I was but a mere child, Nashua was MY horse; when I grew up, it was Seattle Slew. Never thought anyone could persuade me that a horse greater than Slew ever looked through a bridle - and to my mind, that group included the Secretariat supporters. Then, along came Phil Georgeff with Citation: In A Class By Himself, to throw the proverbial monkey wrench into the works.
Beginning with a crisp Foreword by Tommy Trotter and a touching Introduction by former ace Chicago Tribune handicapper, Elmer Polzin, Phil's second major book pulls the reader inexorably toward a conclusion he, himself, reached long ago . . . and that is that NO horse, NO way, NO how, was ever better than Citation.
I am, however, from Missouri, at least when people start claiming that someone or something was the greatest or best ever. So, Phil had to drag (rather than inexorably pull) me through a couple of arguments in Citation's favor, at which point I stopped balking and let myself be led down the path of common sense. It was a seduction, actually, a seduction into a time and place which no longer exists, where men and horses were tough and when a cocktail was something a human drank and not a substance tested for in a state racing lab.
"Citation" draws the reader in, not just because it's well researched and well written, but because it was written with love from the perspective of someone who was there - someone who saw the horse and was transformed into an unabashed fan by him.
The contrast between the heart and soul of a champion thoroughbred and the foibles of his human handlers is part of the story, but so is the rich history of the turf - mighty Calumet, the "Master," Eddie Arcaro, the Jones boys.
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Format: Hardcover
Phil's composed an exemplary, exciting, compelling witty book. An affectionate dedication about Citation-(nicknamed,"Cy".)
Phil put all his unique, colorful, conversational ability into a factual bio about his favorite horse of all time. Cy deftly won the Triple Crown and even raced as a 5-year-old, when so many man-made odds were against him! After the last satisfying page you'll concur, Citation WAS in a class by himself.
Phil immediately puts you into Citation's world; from the moment little Cy was born 4/11/45, and every magical enthralling moment thereafter. Gaze out over smoky blue-kelly green hued KY blue grass. Its range beyond any horizon. Eternal & enduring as Cy's spirit & story. Phil's "Citation" must become a movie! Flows like a screenplay. Plus! It's true w/an undeniable Hollywood ending!
Let Phil's quotes from his book "Citation" give info for this review. (All quotes used with Phil Georgeff's personal permission.)
"This Story Is True...As I Lived It." "I was a 16 yr old jockey wannabe in 1947 the day I first laid eyes on Citation... Instinctively, I sensed Thoroughbred greatness in the making. Happily, I was right."
"Rather, with humble but implicit conviction, we dedicate this opus to WHY & HOW Citation achieved, and genuinely deserves the lofty accolade as "The Greatest Thoroughbred Who Ever Lived!"
"Not until you saw him on race day, dressed for equine warfare--neck proudly arched and head regally bowed in that personal trademark canter of his own creation, then exploding full tilt from the gate with a magisterial will-to-win dynamism, borne of innate nobility--only then did Citation begin to suggest what he truly was: The Greatest Thoroughbred Who Ever Lived!"
"Actually, his face was downright handsome.
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Format: Hardcover
When reading this book, the reader becomes surround by the life of Citation. Georgeff writes with a passion unmatched and fills the book with describtive details. Everyone that was important to mighty Cy's career was in this book and their opinions. The debate Georgeff makes, that Citation is the greatest horse to every race, throughout the book is proved with expert opinions, Georgeff personal experiences, and history. The character list is extremely long that includes barn owners, trainers, and jockeys that all argee that Cy was the best. Sometimes the characters can get confusing and the timeline can get a little mixed up, but all in all the story is wonderful. If you want a good, detail-packed story, this is the book for you. OSU
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