(Photo from NYRA Photo)

April 18, 1990 – October 7, 2014
Raced from 1993-1996
Thoroughbred Stallion - United States

Cigar was not named for the tobacco product. He was owned by Allen E. Paulson, who was an airline pilot early in his life and owned Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation. All of the horses that he got to name were named after airport navigational checkpoints that he had flown through during his piloting career. Some other horses he owned named after checkpoints include Arazi, Azeri, Yagli and Diazo. Cigar was named after the checkpoint in the Gulf of Mexico.

Cigar did not start his career off like one would expect a champion to. He didn’t race at all at age two, and was fairly mediocre when he finally got to running as a three year old. Under his first trainer, Alex Hassinger Jr, he won only two races in nine starts at age three. Those wins coming in a Maiden Special on his second attempt, and an Allowance on his 5th start. Most of those races in his three year old campaign were on turf courses.

For his four year old season, he was sent to trainer Bill Mott, who gave Cigar a rest for half of the year, not bringing him back to the track until July. He ran his first four races of the year in Allowance races on the turf, and registered only two third places. On November 28, 1994 he was entered into an Allowance race on the dirt track. And Cigar exploded. He relished the dirt and won by an amazing eight lengths. After that win, it would be another two years before Cigar would ever taste defeat again.

Confident by his win, he was entered into the NYRA Mile Handicap against top Stakes winner Devil His Due. Cigar won by seven lengths. In January he got his 5 year old start off with an Allowance race which he won by two lengths. After that he was entered in the Donn Handicap against heavy favorite Holy Bull. Cigar won the race easily but his victory was overshadowed by Holy Bull’s breakdown in the race. (Don’t worry! Holy Bull survived and had a great stud life!) After that race he went on to the Gulfstream Park Handicap where he won by seven and a half lengths.

The Stakes wins kept piling up after that. 1995 Oaklawn Handicap. 1995 Pimlico Special Handicap. 1995 Massachusetts Handicap. 1995 Hollywood Gold Cup. 1995 Woodward Stakes. 1995 Jockey Club Gold Cup. By October, he was on a twelve race winning streak as he entered into the 1995 Breeder’s Cup Classic. It had been raining all day and Cigar had never run on a muddy track and many people weren’t sure how he would react. The “Incomparable, invincible, unbeatable” Cigar burst into the lead on the home turn and didn’t look back, winning the Classic in stakes record time of 1:59:58.

(Photo by Jane Gibson/AP)

He returned in 1996 with a win in the Donn Handicap in February. Then a chance was taken. He was targeted to a brand new race outside the country, in a country not many horses traveled to to race. The race was called the Dubai World Cup, a brand new race with a purse of $4 million. There in the sandy track in Dubai, Cigar had to dig in deep for the first time in his winning streak to prevail over a thrilling battle with Soul of The Matter, winning by less then a length. With his streak now at 14, he returned to the US and secured his 15th win in a repeat win of the Massachusetts Handicap.

He was now on the cusp of something no other horse since Citation had done. Win 16 consecutive races in mostly major stakes victories. Arlington Park carded a special race just for Cigar. The “Arlington Citation Challenge”. In that race he faced Dramatic Gold and Unbridled’s Song, and carried 130 pounds. He pulled away to win his 16th straight race and tie Citation’s record.

After that, he was entered into the Pacific Classic, and his streak came to an end. The race was run at a distance longer then he was expect to, he was ridden wide for most of the race, and got drawn into a three horse speed duel. Dare and Go took advantage of Cigar’s bad fortune and passed him to win, Cigar finishing second. He rebounded later that year and won the 1996 Woodward Stakes, but it would be the last time in his career that he would taste victory. He came in second to Skip Away in the 1996 Jockey Club Gold Cup. His final race was the 1996 Breeders Cup Classic, where he finished third due to another wide trip to Alphabet Soup and Louis Quatorze. His long, hard campaign had taken it’s toll and his legs were no longer able to carry the stress of racing.

He was retired to stud, but in an ironic twist it turned out he was infertile and unable to produce even a single foal. With his stud career a flop, he joined the Hall of Champions at the Kentucky Horse Park. He lived the for the rest of his life, happily inhaling his favorite food in the world - peppermints -  until his death in 2014 due to complications after arthritis surgery.

In his career he was the richest horse in the United States, a record which stood until 2008. (Passed by Curlin, Cigar is now #2) and he and Citation’s 16 stakes win streak stood until 2010, when Zenyatta surpassed it to eventually win 19 in a row. Cigar won Eclipse Awards for Older Male Horse and Horse of the Year in 1995 and 1996. He was inducted into the US Racing Hall of Fame in 2002, and was listed 18th of the top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century, and Racehorse of the Decade for the 1990’s. There is a life sized sculpture of him at Florida’s Gulfstream Park, and the NYRA Mile was renamed to the Cigar Mile in 1997. Some of the horses he defeated during his 16 win streak includes Devil His Due, Bertrando, Kissin Kris, Wallenda, Holy Bull, Concern, Best Pal, Tinners Way, Urgent Request, Star Standard, Unaccounted For, Thunder Gulch, L'Carriere, Soul of the Matter, Peaks and Valleys, Wekiva Springs, Unbridled’s Song, Dramatic Gold, Heavenly Prize and Smart Strike.

Sire: Palace Music
Dam: Solar Slew (by Seattle Slew)

Breeder: Allen E. Paulson
Owners: Allen E. Paulson & Madeleine A. Paulson
Trainers: Alex Hassinger, Jr. / William I. Mott
Regular Jockey: Jerry Bailey

33 Races
19 wins
4 Places
5 Shows

Earnings: $9,999,815

(Photo by James Archambeault.)

As a personal note, there’s a thing in the Doctor Who fandom where we claim “My Doctor” as which of the many Doctors as the specific one who got us hooked on the show. Well, Cigar is “My horse”. Without him I would not be a racing fan. I have always loved horses, but never paid much attention to racing prior to 1995. I only ever watched the Kentucky Derby, and just by chance happened to see him win the 1995 Breeder’s Cup Classic, and I fell in love with him instantly. I followed him in every race he ran, screaming and jumping to cheer him on as he ran. I collected newspaper clippings every time he was in the newspaper and put them all over my wall. So without Cigar, I might not be writing this post, and for that I am grateful to him and why he will always be my #1 favorite horse.