Though His Winning Streak Ended at 16 Races, Cigar Remains the Very Model of the Modern Major Thoroughbred
From the Print Edition:
Danny DeVito, Winter 96
Synchronicity. How else can you explain it? At the same time cigars are on the rise, Cigar is on the rise. Ignored for many years, cigars may be the product of the '90s; ignored for his first few years, Cigar may be the racehorse of the '90s.
Over a span of 21 months, Cigar ran in 16 increasingly high-profile races from coast to coast and continent to continent. He faced 116 opponents, beating every one and equaling the record win streak the immortal Citation set almost half a century ago. He got there by hard work, but otherwise he didn't do it the old-fashioned way. Cigar is the very model of the modern major thoroughbred.
Cigar's march to "Sweet 16" explored uncharted territory. Instead of the storied Kentucky Derby-Preakness-Belmont Stakes route that figures prominently in the résumés of most thoroughbred legends, Cigar was routed through arrivistes Breeders' Cup, Dubai World Cup and Arlington Citation Challenge.
A professional equine-athlete, Cigar recently signed with a high-profile international marketing firm, the Creative Marketing Group of Indianapolis, to protect and promote his image. That image and every other fact about him can be extracted from cyberspace at his extensive Web site (http://www.cmgww.com).
And he has celebrities in his entourage. Yes, that was Jack Nicholson posing, cigar in hand, with Cigar in the winner's circle at Belmont Park after the Woodward Stakes last year.
Nostalgia is a big commodity in the modern sports business, and Cigar plays to that trend as well. No horse in years has triggered so many comparisons to the greats of his game--Spectacular Bid, Secretariat, Forego and Citation--as has Cigar, and in doing so he brought their careers back to life for racing fans who may never have seen those champions run.
In marketing terms, Cigar is a rainmaker. Racetracks devise bonus schemes and put up grandiose purses to secure his services, and he has brought record-breaking business to those tracks lucky enough to get him.
Like any modern, progressive business concern, Cigar is a global player. Why send Cigar halfway around the world to run in the Dubai World Cup? Fabled bank robber Willie Sutton could have answered that one--because that's where the money is. Cigar's owner, Allen Paulson, isn't shy on the subject. "In racing they seem to gauge the ability of a horse by how much he makes--the same as they do in the world of business," he says. Cigar earned $2.4 million of his record $9,319,815 in career earnings on that Arabian night eight time zones from where he calls home.
Though Cigar calls New York's racing center Belmont Park home, even the first stage of his 16-race win streak would be an away game--not far away, just a dozen miles down the traffic-impaired Belt Parkway to Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. For trainer Bill Mott, that borough name may be Aqueduct's strongest claim to racing's sobriquet "Sport of Kings."
"Aqueduct is not one of my favorite racetracks. We just like to van over, get it done and go home. I usually don't even go up to the box seats to watch the race," he says.
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