From Masters of the Turf,
by Edward L. Bowen:
"Of all the sentimental tales about Calumet Farm stored in the bosom of racing fans of the time, two probably stood out. One was the story of Whirlaway and the one-eye blinker. The other was the Springtime of Coaltown and Citation. Although there apparently was no pecking order in terms of who had the better division of the Calumet Stable, Citation was in the group that Jimmy Jones had when Ben shipped out to Kentucky with some others. The father's stable included Coaltown, yet another Bull Lea colt with a fascinating past.
As mentioned, Citation and Coaltown had been divined as the best of their crop early. Citation had lived up to such promise, but Coaltown fell flat---literally. When he was two and in training in Chicago, Coaltown caught a cold, which produced an abscess in his throat. The abscess broke during a morning work and Coaltown collapsed on the racetrack.
"I rode over and looked at him," Ben Jones would recall. "He was lying there with blood and pus running out of his nostrils, and you wouldn't have given a hundred dollars for him. I wouldn't have bet we'd get him back to the barn."
Coaltown (Bull Lea--Easy Lass, by Blenheim II) recovered and got to the races in February at Hialeah. While the Joneses were busy producing their champion to Wright's satisfaction, Coaltown won a pair of races in spectacular style and was said to work a half-mile in :43.4.
Once Ben got Coaltown into Kentucky, things got serious. Like his stablemate, Coaltown made child's play of beating older horses sprinting, in the Phoenix Handicap, then won easily in his distance test, the mile and one eighth, Bluegrass Stakes. Kentuckians had a hard time looking past him. They had heard about Citation, but they had seen Coaltown.
Six years earlier Eddie Arcaro had been given his choice between two Greentree horses in the Kentucky Derby. He had chosen Devil Diver over Shut Out and had watched from sixth as the other horse finished first. He was sensitive to such possibilities, and the Kentucky talk about Coaltown was nettlesome. He went to Ben Jones for assurance. As the jockey later recalled, Ben told him "the horse that Citation could not run down had not yet been born."
The track for the Derby was sloppy, a condition that creates a visceral uncertainty as horses go to the post, regardless of perceived form. Coaltown scooted to a rather large lead, which Arcaro noticed. In his autobiography, he admitted, "Let me tell you that I was plenty scared back there while Coaltown was virtually skimming over the ground a way out in front. I was following my orders implicitly, but....Coaltown was running so easily."
Jimmy Jones visited the Churchill Downs backstretch during Derby Week for many years and never seemed to tire of telling stories of his Derbys. Unfailingly friendly, he would relive 1948 and many other Derby moments. One of his best memories, which the present author savored in hearing was that even he---the damned trainer, no less----had a moment when he watched Coaltown approach the far turn and "the thought flickered though my mind that the old man [his father] had been tricking me."
No worry. True, Ben Jones was down as the trainer of record for both Calumet colts that day, which would allow him to win his fourth Kentucky Derby---and thereby, tie Derby Dick Thompson for the record--regardless of who had handled Citation more frequently day to day. But Ben had not lied to son and jockey. "