The news from the Kentucky Horse Park that Cigar died Tuesday Oct. 7 made me look through photos I have of him.
After retiring in 1999, he lived in the Hall of Champions at the Kentucky Horse Park. I met him there in December 2007. He was in his stall, watching a stablehand clean it. But when he saw he had visitors, well, over he came. Seeing my camera, he posed. According to the woman looking after him, he loved putting on a show for the punters. Outside in the paddock, he’d run and roll for the crowd standing along his fence. Inside his stall, he’d do what he did with me, come right up and strike poses for as long as a camera clicked.
Cigar died during surgery to relieve his pain from osteoarthritis in his neck and spine. He was 24 years old. He earned nearly $10 million and 19 of his 33 starts. He tied the 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation’s record of 16 consecutive wins. His maternal grandsire was the 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. His paternal great-grandsire was the great Northern Dancer. Twice voted Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male and inducted into the National Museum of Racing and the Hall of Fame, he lived up to the standards of his predecessors.
He thrilled racing fans at the track and, in retirement, he thrilled many more by giving of himself so cheerfully. You were a gentleman, Cigar, and you will be missed.
He is buried at the Memorial Walk of Champions near his barn and the Horse Park says there will be a public memorial service at a later date.