A. B. (HAPPY) CHANDLER
Governor of Kentucky
Why only the last 10 Derbies? The champion of champion is Citation, the last horse to acquire the triple crown. Not only was he the first horse to win over $1 million, but Citation set a record for a mile which still stands. He also set at least three track records and equaled another.
This is an article from the April 30, 1956 issue
Swaps. He wasn't at all at his best when Nashua beat him in their famous match race. Swaps is a great horse and can run all day. Citation, despite his earnings, wasn't better than his stablemate, Coaltown, who set a track record here and finished second to Citation in the Derby.
Trainer of Nashua
I'll have to go along with Citation, but Assault and Swaps are close. You can never tell about horse racing. Any of these three might beat the others on a given day. Dark Star beat Native Dancer in the Derby, but the Dancer was a better horse. Count Turf was also a fine Derby winner.
ROBERT J. AMES
In my opinion, Ponder was the most sound and solid winner of the last 10 Derbies. His fine legs were an outstanding factor in the stamina so necessary for the mile and a quarter. To finish the racing season as spectacularly as Ponder did is a great tribute to any 3-year-old.
BENJAMIN F. LINDHEIMER
Director, Arlington, Washington Parks
Three horses immediately come to mind, Swaps, Citation and Assault. I think Swaps is as great a horse as Citation and believe that in this dream race Swaps and Citation would finish in a dead heat. I place them in a class with Man o' War. Assault would be a neck behind.
Owner, Lake Tarleton Club
Count Turf. He won the Derby in a gallop. His illustrious father, Count Fleet, also won the Derby, as did his grandfather, Reigh Count, but Count Turf won it in faster time. He injured a leg in his last race, but won on three legs. Newspapers said they had never seen such a game horse.
Columnist and President of Churchill Downs
Citation. He was surely greater than Man o' War because he ran in a tougher era of racing and had tougher competition. I didn't see all of Citation's races, but he won easily in every one I saw. I saw Man o' War run against John P. Grier and he had a tough time winning.
FRANK G. CLEMENT
Governor of Tennessee
The Kentucky Derby is not always won by the best horse. A case in point is Dark Star's victory over Native Dancer. I wouldn't bet on any horse to win, but I'd choose Assault as the best of the last 10 winners. However, I think that Native Dancer would have beaten all of them.
Greater New York Assn.
Citation is the best I've ever seen. Assault might have pushed him, but Citation had speed in every part of the race. That's important in a distance run like the Derby. Citation was still quite a horse when he came out of retirement to push his winnings over a million.
DONALD C. LILLIS
President, Bowie Race Track
Assault. He won the Derby by eight lengths on a slow track and could have extended his margin. With early speed horses like Jet Pilot and Determine setting the pace, a race against all the Derby winners would be made to order for Assault's powerful run in the stretch.
ROBINSON S. BROWN JR.
Swaps. I saw that race and had the feeling that if Swaps had really been extended, he would have turned in the best time in Derby history, now held by Whirlaway, 2:01 2/5. Swaps, my choice in any case, recently broke the alltime record for the mile and 70 yards.
Any of these horses could win on a given day, depending on condition and desire. But horse racing is as much a business as any other enterprise. As a businessman, and a racing enthusiast as well, I'd consider averages and bet on Citation, the greatest money winner of all time.
What did you want to be when you were a boy? (Asked at Augusta, Ga. of golfers competing in the Masters tournament.)