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Cigar Lit It Up

Posted by on 10/21/2014 10:16:19 PM

Early this month, racing lost a true star when Cigar died at the age of 24 and handicappers that have followed the game for any extended period surely remember this beast.

Like many horses and humans, we all wake up at different times and Cigar was no exception. He lost his debut by 13 lengths and then went right to the bench.

He returned about 10 weeks later overcame trouble to earn the diploma. Then there was a major drought. The racer just was a slow learner.

The son of Palace Music took a few races to finally get past the entry-level allowance spot and after that win, he didn’t score again for 14 months. It was time to shake things up and his owner moved to horse to Bill Mott’s barn.

The light went on and the rest is history.

The coming out party was in his 1994 finale when he won the Grade 1 NYRA Mile at 8-1 when earning a juicy 115 Beyer Speed Figure.

The machine was then off to the races. He opened up 1995 with and allowance win and faced stakes company for the rest of his career.

He won 4 Grade 1s in a row at 3 different tracks and then shipped to yet another track and won the $750,000 Massachusetts Handicap with a 117 Beyer.

The streak continued as he won 5 Grade 1s next and then shipped around the world to win the $4 million Dubai World Cup. Freshened after that race, he repeated in the Mass ‘Cap, shipped to Chicago and won, shipped to Del Mar and then succumbed to the thing that gets us all, fatigue, in the Pacific Classic when 2nd.

In all, he won 16 races in a row and in his final 3 races, he won the Grade 1 Woodward, was 2nd a head in a Group 1 and then ended his career when 3rd beaten a head in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

For the record, he reached the winner’s circle 19 times in 33 starts, was in the money 9 other times and finished his career with a $9,999,815 bankroll.

Under Mott’s guidance Cigar became the horse of the 1990s. To say he smoked his foes is an understatement but he was not named after a tobacco.

His owner, Allen Paulson, was an avid pilot and he named Cigar after a checkpoint in the Gulf of Mexico.

Cigar captured the imagination of the masses and he was the cover boy of magazines like People, Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Newsweek and of course, Cigar Aficionado.

The only bad point about this racer’s career is that he was a bust at stud. Retired to the breeding shed, he had dates with 34 mares but did not sire a runner.

Will there be another like Cigar? Maybe, it’s possible, but in today’s game, racing 33 times in 3 years is unlikely and it’s also unlikely that a runner will appear that can win on the lead, close up or from midpack.

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