WASHINGTON — Owner Allen Paulson has made it official: Cigar's loss in the Breeders' Cup Classic was the last race of his career. The 6-year-old has taken up residence at Paulson's Kentucky farm to begin his new life as a stallion.
Cigar retires as America's top money-winning racehorse of all time, with earnings just short of $10 million. His record on dirt--where he found his milieu after two fruitless years of racing on grass--was exceptional: 22 starts, 18 wins, 22 in-the-money finishes.
Because three of Cigar's main-track losses came in the last four starts of his career, after a 16-race winning streak in which he had seemed invincible, most people assumed that age and infirmities caught up with the champion. Trainer Bill Mott likened Cigar to Muhammad Ali in the waning stages of his career. Madeleine Paulson said Thursday, "He may not have the spring in his foot that he used to have, but I'm grateful for everything he's given us."
This is a minority view, but I dispute the notion that Cigar lost these recent races because he was aging and his capabilities declining. My speed figures translate every performance by a horse into a number that reflects how fast he ran, taking into account the speed of the surface over which he competed. From September 1995, when he won the Woodward Handicap at Belmont, through his defeat in the Breeders' Cup at Woodbine, these were Cigar's figures in his U.S. races: 111, 111, 117, 117, 112, 117, 111, 116, 114, 115.