When the bay Thoroughbred Cigar ran his first race at California's Santa Anita Park track in 1993, very few racing fans would have predicted that he would become one of the most famous racehorses of all time. Cigar, a grandson of Seattle Slew, another famous racehorse, was a three-year-old colt at the time. He did not finish up in the winner's circle, in fact, he wasn't even close. His trainer at the time, decided to give him break before racing him again, and two months later, on May 9, he was entered in a race at Hollywood Park, CA. The bay colt, with a blaze shaped like a tomahawk, started out slow, but with the help of jockey Pat Valenzuela, he was soon neck and neck with the other horses. Halfway through the race, Cigar took the lead and never looked back. He had won his first race by 2¼ lengths!
His next win came three races later in August. He had a new jockey, Chris McCarron, for the race in Del Mar, CA. Being by the beautiful sunny oceanside must have suited Cigar, because the win was the only one he would ever have on a grass track. He raced four more times in CA, but didn't win again. His owner Allen Paulson, a wealthy pilot, decided to change trainers and move him to the East Coast stable of Bill Mott. Mott ran the big bay four more times but he didn't have a win. On October 7, 1994, he ran his last race on grass with a famous female jockey on his back — Julie Krone! They placed third.
Later that month, Cigar's famous winning streak began. His trainer decided to start running the bay colt on dirt tracks instead of grass ones. This was one of the best decisions Bill Mott ever made! Cigar won his next race at the Aquaduct Racetrack in New York and continued to win his next 12 races in Florida, New Jersey and New York, including the prestigious Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont Park on October 28, 1995, ridden by Jerry Bailey. People started to notice Cigar, and get excited when he was going to race.
In March 1996, Bill, Jerry and Cigar traveled an amazing 6000 miles to the Middle East to enter The Dubai World Cup, a race worth $4 million. Racing enthusiasts from all over North America got up in the morning to watch Cigar gallop over the finish line in first place.
When he returned to the United States, Cigar won two more races. That made 16 wins in a row. He tied the record set by the famous racehorse Citation. On August 10, 1996, millions were glued to their televisions, waiting to see if Cigar would win his 17th race in a row and break Citation's record. Sadly, his spectacular winning streak came to an end in the Pacific Classic, run at Del Mar Racetrack. Cigar's winning ways were not quite over yet, though. One month later, he won the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park for the second time in a row.
Cigar set new world records in the prize money he collected too. He won almost $10 million during his career, making him the richest racehorse ever! Not long after his last race, he was retired to the Coolmore Stud in Kentucky. His stud fee of $75,000 was one of the highest fees ever set. Many people wanted to breed their Thoroughbred mares to Cigar, in hopes that they would get foals that had his amazing talent. Unfortunately, Cigar did not get any of the mares pregnant, so he was given a thorough check-up by some of the best equine vets in the country. It was decided that Cigar would be turned out for a while to relax in a beautiful field, full of tasty Kentucky bluegrass. Recently, Cigar's vet said that the retired racehorse has gained lots of weight and is very happy and healthy, but that at the moment his owners have no plans to breed him.
Did you know that Cigar is not named after that stinky stogie your grandpa smokes after dinner?! Cigar is an aviation (airplane) checkpoint in the Gulf of Mexico. He was given his name by his airplane-loving owner Allen Paulson.