LEXINGTON, Ky. -- He retired as North American Thoroughbred Racing's all-time leading money earner and was Horse of the Year in 1995 and 1996.
Cigar recently celebrated his 18th birthday at the Kentucky Horse Park. He now resides in the stall formerly occupied by John Henry, another two-time Horse of the Year, who died Oct. 8.
Stonerside Stable's trainer Tim Jones was an assistant trainer to Hall of Famer conditioner Bill Mott when Cigar embarked on his sojourn that included his 16 consecutive wins and two Horse of the Year titles.
"I spent two and a half years living with that horse," said Jones. "I traveled with him everywhere. I galloped Cigar in California while he was in Alex Hassinger's barn, before he was sent to Bill (Mott). I happened to be in California with Fraise and Paradise Creek when Madeline Paulson asked me to ride him. He was 3 years old at the time. He came to us a year later."
Jones accompanied Cigar everywhere, including a trip to Dubai. Cigar retired with 19 wins from 33 lifetime starts, placed second four times and third five times and retired with earnings of $9,999,815.
"The only place I didn't get to go with him was to Churchill Downs when they retired him," said Jones, who had the opportunity to spend some time with Cigar at the Kentucky Horse Park. "I went a couple of years ago and actually got to lead him around for the program. He's a once in a lifetime horse for someone. He's been the all-time leading money earner for the past 12 years. I was very blessed to get to know him and to actually spend that much time around him. The goal is to be able to find another horse like him."
Cigar does three shows a day at the Kentucky Horse Park at the Hall of Champions at 10:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.
"He looks fantastic; he's all dappled out," said Cathy Roby, Hall of Champions barn manager last Thursday afternoon in an interview at the Horse Park. "He keeps himself fit. Nobody believes he's 18 years old when they look in his stall and see him there. After the last show at about 3:30 p.m., he's turned back out in his paddock, and he can do whatever he wants to all night long. Sometimes when he first goes out, he'll run around a little bit and rear, and if the weather is a little bit cool he'll rear up and put on a show for people. He keeps himself fit and maintains his muscle tone."
The Hall of Champions ranks among the highest attractions at the Kentucky Horse Park in visitor satisfaction, said Lisa Jackson, Kentucky Horse Park director of marketing and public relations.
"The Hall of Champions is very popular," said Jackson. "When you go to the Hall of Champions, watch a show, hear about the horses, it's quite amazing and really touching."
Thoroughbred racing fans often frequent the park during the Keeneland Sales and during the Keeneland Spring and Fall meets, said Jackson. Thoroughbreds Da Hoss and Kona Gold and Standardbreds Western Dreamer and Staying Together also reside at the Hall of Champions.
"The busiest days at the Hall of Champions are Kentucky Oaks day and the day after the Kentucky Derby," said Jackson. "We often get visits from former jockeys, trainers and owners, who come to visit the Hall of Champions. Just this past week, we were visited by some of the owners of the syndicate who owned Da Hoss who had come in for the Kentucky Derby."
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Source: Aiken Standard (subscription)