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The Incomparable Cigar – Farewell to a Champion

October 8, 2014

Not everything we do is about rabbits and peppers and chickens. For decades I worked with horses, and as such watched many champions crowned and many heartbreaking moments. When Curlin swept to the lead and went to the leading notch on the all time money earning list, it was racing history. It passed Cigar.

There are many things being written today in tribute of Cigar. Many from those who spent time with him and his handlers, many who watched his races or saw him at the Kentucky Horse Park. From his birth in 1990 in Maryland to his death in Kentucky, Cigar touched people. In his time Cigar was a class race horse and in time his name has held in record books. It is a shame that all that speed was devoid of the genetics to pass it on – Cigar was infertile as a breeding stallion.

Still, on Breeders Cup day 1995 Cigar blew out of the gate breathing fire. He looked over his opponents and snorted “BRING IT!”

He displayed an iron will that day. He raced at multiple tracks across America and to the sands of Dubai. He equaled Citation’s record wins before being passed by the ladies in more recent years – Zenyatta, Pepper’s Pride and Black Caviar. He took on all comers, no excuses. He came up just short in 1996 when Alphabet Soup denied a back to back win.

He will always be the first winner of the Dubai World Cup.

He’s the stuff of books, of legends, of larger than life feats. He’s Cigar. Like Seattle Slew, his maternal grandsire, neck issues were a problem for him. Surgery to improve his quality of life was undertaken and unfortunately not all medical chances are positive.

“I can’t tell you how many times I remind the people who work for me just how special this is,” Mott told The Blood-Horse at the time. “It’s like we’ve been chosen for some reason to be around this horse for this moment in time and we should never forget how fortunate we are.”

He’s done almost all that was asked of him. He won where and when asked, in a dominant way and yet professional. He served as a monumental presence of greatness at the Kentucky Horse Park for years.
He stopped short on being immortal. Farewell Cigar – thanks for the goosebumps, the shaking stadiums and the touch of greatness that mere humans often don’t appreciate.
CigarKiLongfellowwikimedia photos
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