Tom Fool. His record shows it. He set records with higher handicaps. In the 19 years that I have been riding, few horses have been asked to carry the weights that Tom Fool carried as a 4-year-old. When you talk about the great horses of all time, never forget Tom Fool.
Citation in his one great year as a 3-year-old, when he won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont. He was intelligent and easy to handle. It's too bad that he broke down as a late 4-year-old. Never again was he the real Citation, because he was beaten by horses below his class.
Count Fleet, by far. He was the only horse ever to win the Triple Crown plus the Wood Memorial and Withers. He won the Belmont Stakes in a gallop by 25 lengths. I rode every one of his 21 races, carried a whip but never dared use it. He might have taken off so fast he'd have left me behind.
Bardstown. He has everything a good horse needs, plenty of speed, stamina and courage. He can run any way the race calls for. He can come from behind or, if the rest of the field calls for Bardstown to go out front, he's freewheeling from the gate to set the pace all the way.
Native Dancer. He could do anything better than any horse I ever rode and do it easily. "The Dancer" always had something left, even when he lost the Kentucky Derby by a head, his only loss. Actually, he really didn't get good until after the Derby. He ranks with the great race horses of all time.
Three Rings. I won many stakes on him. He won the Royal Palm at Hialeah three times in a row and he was disqualified after coming in first in the 1950 Butler. When he was at his peak as a 5-and 6-year-old, I thought he was the best handicap horse in the country.
Middleground. I won the Kentucky Derby on him. His time for the last quarter of that race was one of the fastest ever. I also won the Belmont Stakes with him the same year. Middleground was a free-running horse, easy to ride, and a kind horse that you couldn't help but love.
The last few years I've been privileged to ride horses like Swoon's Son, Needles and Summer Tan—all champions. But although I rode him only once, I'll have to call Swaps the best. He handled like no other horse I've been aboard. He's what I call a superhorse. You don't find his kind very often.
I didn't ride one of the superhorses, Man o' War, Citation or Count Fleet. Devil's Thumb, who nearly made a complete sweep of the 2-year-old races at Saratoga, was my greatest horse. At six furlongs, he could open up five lengths from the gate or come from 10 lengths behind to win.
That's easy; Swaps. He always wanted to run. I never had to ask him to start moving. When he hit the three-eighths pole he'd automatically turn on the steam. Swaps set three world records at Hollywood Park and tied another without my ever touching him with the whip.