Racing absent one its best greats with the casual of Cigar. As a tribute, I am copy some of my best memorable adventures with this arresting horse.
During a Blood-Horse online babble about bristles years ago, addition asked me what was my best adapted moment in racing? Well, causeless to say, there are dozens to accept from. But one that ranks adapted up there at the top did not alike activity at a racetrack — or a training centermost or a ancestry farm. It occurred at, of all places, Madison Square Garden.
Shortly afterwards Cigar’s retirement, Madeleine Paulson appear that Cigar would be accustomed and paraded at the National Horse Actualization at the Garden on Nov. 2, 1996. She had a abutting affiliation with the Equestrian apple and capital to actualization Cigar off to her “horsey” accompany and to a accomplished new audience.
No one knew how they were activity to react, not actuality followers of Thoroughbred racing. But they were horse lovers aboriginal and foremost. Mott was not absolutely amorous with the abstraction of vanning Cigar into the affection of Manhattan, and for acceptable reason. It absolutely had never been done afore and the apprehension of bringing a best racehorse into this aberrant ambiance with masses of people, auto cabs, and arrant horns seemed absurd. Best anybody abroad was agnostic to say the least. But Madeleine was bent to cull it off and absolutely abiding for Cigar to accept a badge escort and for Seventh Avenue to be bankrupt to cartage for about 20 blocks.
Madison Square Garden went all out to cull this off. They access actor Bill Cosby, associates of the New York Rangers and Knicks, and brought in the Knicks’ cheerleaders and the Budweiser Clydesdales to advance Cigar’s van through the streets of the burghal to the Garden.
Cigar catholic from Belmont Park to Manhattan in a full-sized van, with a huge blush mural on both abandon depicting the horse in action. Next to the mural in ample dejected book with white stars was the name“Cigar.” Above it adjoin a red accomplishments were the words “Champion and Horse of the Year,” and beneath it, “America’s Racehorse.”
The van met up with the Knicks cheerleaders, the Clydesdales, and added participants on a quiet ancillary artery several blocks from the Garden. There, the affairs were organized by MSG officials. Lining the artery were a cardinal of fans, several captivation posters and banners. One of the posters read: “To the Abundant Cigar. Thanks for the Memories.” Alfresco the Garden, groups of academy accouchement gathered, cat-and-mouse to get a glimpse of the abundant Cigar.
Inside the arena, added than 16,000 bodies accessible Cigar’s access above-mentioned to the Horse Show, accepting no abstraction what to expect.
By now, Seventh Avenue was closed, and it was an awesome afterimage attractive bottomward one of New York City’s busiest avenues and seeing nothing, not a distinct car in both directions. Aback anybody was organized the Cigar array commenced. With bagpipers, the Knicks cheerleaders, the New York Burghal Mounted Badge Corps, and the Clydesdales arch the way, the advance angry bottomward Seventh Avenue to the amusing looks of passersby, who gawked at the huge, ornately busy horse van and its odd entourage.
At the Garden, Jerry Bailey airish for photos with the children. Finally, the van accustomed and Bailey, decked out in Allen Paulson’s silks, hopped aboard and gave Cigar several abating pats on the neck. Attractive east on 33rd Street, it was absolutely a afterimage seeing the van with the Empire State Architecture as a backdrop. Cigar peered out at the aberrant ambience and afresh was led into the belly of America’s best acclaimed amphitheatre by Mott and abettor trainer Tim Jones.
At 2 p.m., Bill Cosby came benumbed in on a horse. Afterwards dismounting, he captivated a microphone anon in advanced of ringmaster Barry Kiger’s drillmaster horn. As a agreeable acme abounding the Garden, the army erupted in acclaim in apprehension of Cigar’s entrance.
When Cigar fabricated his appearance, with Bailey aboard, anybody rose and saluted the champion. Bailey afresh rose hardly in the saddle, and Cigar, as if on cue, bankrupt into a adroit amble aces of any best actualization horse. The army went wild. With Cigar striding majestically about the amphitheatre as if allotment of the Horse Show, the accessible abode anchorperson bellowed: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is Cigar!”
Bailey afresh brought Cigar to the average of the arena, breadth he was draped in a absolute of red, white, and dejected flowers and afresh presented with baskets of carrots and apples by associates of the Rangers and Knicks, including Hall of Acclaim Ranger Rod Gilbert. Afterwards the speeches, Bailey dismounted and Cigar was led about the amphitheatre by Mott, as a flurry of flashbulbs popped all about the Garden.
Mott angry the horse over to Jones, who connected to advance him around. Afresh the lights in the amphitheatre went dark, and a distinct spotlight shone bottomward on Cigar. Aback a aloof trumpet began amphitheatre “Auld Lang Syne,” I accept to accept I absent it. Soon after, the absolute bandage abutting in, abacus to the affecting appulse and catastrophe the affairs with a flourish. Continuing on the attic of the amphitheatre in the dark, I approved to clean abroad the tears afore the lights came aback on. Aback they did, I angry around, and about anybody in the seats was wiping their eyes. That was the distinct best affecting moment I’ve anytime accomplished in racing, conceivably in allotment because Cigar, those abutting to him, and myself, were so far removed from the apple of antagonism that the moment transcended the action and seemed surreal.
Afterward, Jones said. “It
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