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(Arlington Heights, Illinois, July 13, 1996)—He had every excuse in the world not to equal Citation’s modern-day North American record, but racing’s superstar didn’t buy any of it and took the $1.05-million race with relative ease. A sold-out Arlington International Racecourse of 34,223 screaming fans stood witness to Cigar’s latest triumph, the Arlington Citation Challenge and his 16th consecutive victory. Despite a sore hoof and taking the first portion of the race at least six-wide off the rail in what jockey Jerry Bailey described as his worst fear coming true, Cigar settled in nicely on the backstretch and prepared himself for another successful stretch run.

The festival atmosphere at the racetrack provided a perfect build-up for the Challenge. Throughout the day, the infield’s jumbo screen counted down the stretch calls of Cigar’s previous 15 victories during the streak. Vendors could be spotted throughout the grandstand and clubhouse selling Arlington Citation Challenge hats, t-shirts, medallions, posters, autographed prints, and even bubble gum cigars. The first race post of noon provided ample opportunity for the "regulars" to take in plenty of racing before the crowds shuffled in and betting lines became difficult to stand. No one seemed bothered by the large crowd, as everyone sensed history would be made later in the day.

Following the ninth race, the crowd began to rustle toward the entrance of the racetrack. Many thousands packed the rails around the walking circle, the overlooking balconies, and even the stairways just to get a glimpse of 1995’s Horse of the Year. The excitement could be felt in the air as, in only a matter of minutes, Cigar would make his way into the paddock. The first horse appeared through the large opening to the paddock and began walking toward the circular path. Rumbles could be heard in the crowd: "Is that him?"; "Is that Cigar?"; "I think its him!" Perhaps he seemed to look like all the other horses, at least until five armed guards entered from behind and followed him around the paddock. It was indeed Cigar. A slight applause began to stir. The crowd seemed rather reserved, almost unsure how to act. After several circles, Cigar entered his number ten stall and began the saddling process. Minutes later, the jockeys appeared and took instructions from their trainers. The slight applause became larger when the "riders up" call was heard and Jerry Bailey, fitted with the red, white, and blue silks of owner Allen Paulson, took his mount aboard Cigar. After a circle around the paddock, the horses headed for the track. What was most amazing about the whole scene was who wasn’t applauded. Just one stall next to Cigar was Unbridled’s Song, the Kentucky Derby favorite and the darling of the three-year-old class. Not too far down in the number six stall was Illinois champion, Polar Expedition, the hometown favorite. Quietly saddling his own entry in the number one stall was D. Wayne Lukas, Hall of Fame trainer and 1995’s leading money winner. Had President Clinton been spotted at the track, it wouldn’t have been too far of a stretch to think Cigar would have overshadowed him. In fact, Governor Jim Edgar of Illinois was at the track and no one seemed to notice. This would be Cigar’s day, and no one would spoil it, especially not the other nine horses.

With 15 minutes to post, the bugle was sounded and Cigar’s nine challengers appeared from under the stands and made their way onto the track. The anticipation began to build and finally the champion entered the track to a standing ovation. A few minutes later, Cigar’s "connections" of trainer Bill Mott and owner Allen Paulson and family appeared in the executive boxes in the clubhouse. Arlington chairman Richard Duchossois and Governor Jim Edgar greeted them. Just behind them, Unbridled’s Song’s owner Ernie Paragallo and Eltish’s trainer Bobby Frankel were shown their seats. Once again, no one seemed to mind them as all eyes were on Paulson and Mott. The starting gate for the 1-1/8-mile race was securely in place in front of the stands. The first nine starters entered the gate with no problem. Jerry Bailey held his mount back for a few seconds to give the crowd one more glimpse at Cigar before he would make history…

The race itself proved to be just as exciting as the build-up. Into the first turn, as expected D. Wayne Lukas’ Honour and Glory led the charge with Cigar laying sixth, six-wide off the rail. On the backstretch the horses settled to a tighter bunch, and at the top of the stretch, Cigar made his move. With Honour and Glory quitting along the rail, Cigar would need to put Dramatic Gold behind him to tie Citation’s mark. At the 1-mile marker, for a split second, doubts on whether Dramatic Gold would surrender the lead were raised throughout the crowd. Then, as he has done so many times before, Cigar hit the gas and left the competition in his smoke.  He had done it! Citation’s modern-day North American record of 16 consecutive victories was equaled. For nearly 20 minutes, the sell-out crowd gave the thoroughbred a chilling standing ovation.  When all was said and done, Cigar took the "challenge" and his connections went their separate ways.  Owner Allen Paulson was led to a helicopter en route to a private airport where the chairman of Gulfstream Aeronautics boarded his Gulfstream jet for a flight home to California and a subsequent victory party at Paramount Studio.  Jerry Bailey and Bill Mott were led to a special press conference to discuss the race, and Cigar was given a much-deserved sponge bath.  The exhausting day had come to an end and the storybook tale of the world’s greatest thoroughbred would be continued on a later date, most likely on August 10th in the Pacific Classic in California. There was still one more race on the Arlington card, but that didn’t seem to matter either. The crowd got what they came to see.

                        TALE OF THE TAPE: Cigar vs. Citation

 

 

Cigar

Citation

Birthday 

April 18, 1990 

April 11, 1945

 Place of Birth  

 Maryland 

 Kentucky

Sire   

Palace Music

Bull Lea

Dam       

 Solar Slew   

 Hydroplane II

First Race, Date   

Feb. 21, 1993  

April 22, 1947

 First Race, Track

 Santa Anita Park

Havre de Grace

Final Race, Date  

October 26, 1997 

July 14, 1951

Final Race, Track  

Woodbine

Hollywood Park

Career Earnings

$9,019,815

$1,085,760

Career Record

30-18-3-4

45-32-10-2

Stakes Wins

 13   

24

Record at 1 1/8 Miles (dirt)

7-7-0-0

6-4-2-0

Record carrying 130+ pounds  

2-2-0-0

4-0-4-0

Height at shoulder  

16-3 (5 ft.-7 in.)

16-0 (5 ft.-4 in.)

Weight      

1,024 lbs.

1,075 lbs.

 Girth

 71 inches

74 inches

The Streak at a Glance:

Dates of Streak (first win-first loss)

10/28/94-8/10/96

4/17/48-1/26/50

Races Won

16    

 16

 Largest Margin of Victory

 8 lengths

11 lengths

Smallest Margin of Victory

length

1 length

 Different Tracks

10   

9

Highest Weight Carried

130  

126

 Lowest Weight Carried

 111

117

Money Earned

$8,720,200

$647,595