Horses

Memorial for Cigar set; statue planned for 2015

Cigar admired the painting he created for a Rerun Fundraiser at the Kentucky Horse Park on Sept. 25, 2002.  With Cigar was Tammy Siters, caretaker at the Hall of Champions.
Cigar admired the painting he created for a Rerun Fundraiser at the Kentucky Horse Park on Sept. 25, 2002. With Cigar was Tammy Siters, caretaker at the Hall of Champions. LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

The Kentucky Horse Park will hold a public memorial service Nov. 14, for Cigar, a champion Thoroughbred who died last month.

The 2 p.m. service, at the park's Hall of Champions, will honor the champion, who died Oct. 7 at age 24 from complications after surgery for severe osteoarthritis in his neck.

Cigar was buried near the paddock he occupied for the 15 years he lived at the park.

Kentucky first lady Jane Beshear will pay tribute to the Hall of Fame horse. Fans are welcome to bid a final farewell as well. They may post photos and farewell wishes to Cigar on Twitter or Tumblr with #CigarKHP, or comment on the park's Facebook or Google+ pages.

The ceremony is included in regular park admission ($10 for adults, $5 ages 7 to12), but guests arriving after 1:30 p.m. just for the memorial service will not be charged admission.

The Kentucky Horse Park Foundation is leading efforts to raise money to commission a bronze statue memorializing Cigar, with plans to unveil the statue during the week before the 2015 Breeders' Cup, when the races will be in Lexington.

The Kentucky Horse Park and Cigar's connections will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his 1995 Breeders' Cup Classic win at Belmont Park, ending a perfect season for the champion.

At retirement, Cigar had a total of 19 wins in 33 starts, with earnings of $9,999,815, which was a record at the time. He was voted champion older male and horse of the year in 1995 and 1996.

The first horse to tie racing legend Citation's record of 16 consecutive victories, Cigar had lived at the Kentucky Horse Park since his retirement in 1999. Cigar was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in August 2002, his first year of eligibility.

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