'Song' to face Cigar Saturday Pair will cross in Arlington race JTC

July 11, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

NEW YORK -- Unbridled's Song, star-crossed all year with injuries and ailments, was declared sound yesterday and was booked immediately for a flight to Chicago tomorrow on the same airplane with Cigar. And the two charismatic horses will meet Saturday at Arlington International Racecourse when Cigar tries to match Citation's record of 16 consecutive victories.

The confrontation between the 3-year-old mystery horse and the 6-year-old superhorse, who hasn't lost a race in 20 months, became a certainty when Dr. Jud Butler removed the patch from Unbridled's Song's left front ankle and gave his approval. The colt has not won since the Florida Derby in March and hasn't raced since he finished second in the Peter Pan Stakes in May.

"He's definitely going to Chicago," said Ernie Paragallo, who owns Unbridled's Song. "He's training as well as ever. He's at his peak. I think that at his best he can beat Cigar. It's going to come down to whether he can outkick Cigar."

The two horses won't be alone in the race, which was created especially for Maryland-bred Cigar, who has earned $8 million as the sport's greatest money-winner. The field of eight includes Honour and Glory, the speedster from the D. Wayne Lukas stable, who won the Metropolitan Mile.

The Arlington Park management let Cigar's owner, Allen Paulson, select the time and the 1 1/8 -mile distance, offered a purse of $750,000 plus a bonus of $300,000 and even called the race the Arlington Citation Challenge.

The winner will receive $450,000 of the purse plus the bonus for a total of $750,000. Second place is worth $150,000; third, $82,500; fourth, $45,000, and fifth, $22,500. The horses who finish sixth through last place each will be paid $5,000 for showing up. If Cigar doesn't show up, the purse plummets to $300,000.

Until yesterday, it was by no means certain that Unbridled's Song would show up, or that he was even contemplating it. But then, Paragallo isn't famous for doing the predictable. He ran his gray star in the Kentucky Derby with a patch on his heel and with bar shoes on his feet, and the horse led for one mile before fading to a close fifth.

Then he wavered on the Preakness, finally skipped it, skipped the Belmont Stakes after more wavering, then ran second to Jamie's First Punch in the Peter Pan.

"Since the Peter Pan, he's just missed three days of training," Paragallo said. "When he ran half a mile on Tuesday in 48 1/5 seconds on the main track at Belmont Park, he looked and acted ready to roll. He didn't even know he was finished working out. He wanted to go back and do it again."

Pub Date: 7/11/96

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