Big-time marketing push being planned for Cigar

On Horse Racing

July 21, 1996|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

You think that lately you've seen plenty of Cigar, the Maryland-bred champion with 16 straight wins? Think again.

Allen E. Paulson, owner of the 6-year-old superhorse, has turned over management of Cigar's name, image and likeness to CMG Worldwide Inc., the Indianapolis firm that holds similar rights to Ruffian and Secretariat.

Already, CMG has created a home page on the Internet for Cigar. The site includes photos and a chronology of Cigar's career and eventually will provide information on all licensed products. It can be accessed on CMG's home page at www.cmgww.com.

Kelly McLane Jones, CMG account executive, said those licensed products will include the expected hats, T-shirts, sweat shirts and polo shirts, as well as credit cards, telephone debit cards, bronze statues, a book, a filmed documentary and perhaps promotions with "upscale cigar companies."

All must be approved by Paulson, who named his horse after an aviation checkpoint in the Gulf of Mexico, not a stinking cigar. All profits will go to horse racing and jockey charities.

Might his fans soon see, say, car advertisements on TV featuring the reliable, high-performance Cigar?

"We certainly hope so," Jones said.

Lillis recuperating

Bobby Lillis, one of the best-known and most popular workers at Maryland's tracks, is recovering at his Westminster home after a terrifying accident nine days ago at Pimlico.

Lillis, 42, was preparing to pull up the 2-year-old gelding Talk after a five-eighths-mile workout when a bandage on Talk's front foot unraveled. The horse tripped, throwing Lillis, and then landed on top of him.

Knocked out, Lillis was transported by ambulance to nearby Sinai Hospital, only to awaken to a diagnosis of possible broken neck and pelvis, spinal injury and leg paralysis. Within a few hours, however, emergency room workers determined that he miraculously had broken no bones. He sustained a massive concussion -- serious enough but, under the circumstances, extremely fortunate.

"I am terribly relieved," Lillis said Friday. "Every day I'm getting better."

Lillis is "a goodwill ambassador for racing," said Ann Taylor, Maryland Jockey Club director of media relations. "He's the kind of guy who takes his old racing magazines to the dentist's office, hoping to get people interested in horses."

Also, Taylor said, he is the "unofficial backstretch correspondent, its self-appointed liaison with management. So he's widely known on the backstretch, as well as with management."

Lillis has worked with horses since he was 15, walking, breaking and riding them. He worked as a jockey nearly 10 years, winning 180 races before settling down in 1982 as an exercise rider in Maryland. He also works afternoons as a parking lot attendant at Pimlico and Laurel.

He said that now, as he recovers from his most serious injury, his wife, relatives and friends keep reminding him that he is 42 and "might want to consider something other than galloping horses.

"But I'm not ready to call it quits," he said. "I love the horse-racing industry. This is what I've done all my life, get on horses' backs."

Sixth was fine

Herbert Keil, the 69-year-old co-owner of Dr. Banting, still is beaming over his 4-year-old gelding's sixth-place finish in last weekend's Citation Challenge at Arlington International Racecourse near Chicago.

Most eyes were on Cigar as he won his 16th straight race, matching Citation's 46-year-old record. But the eyes of Keil and his 44-year-old son-in-law, Michael Solomon, were on Dr. Banting.

This was Dr. Banting's first race out-of-state after 12 starts at Pimlico and Laurel. At odds of 103-1, he raced far wider than his owners would have preferred, but still he beat four horses, including Unbridled's Song, the favorite in this year's Kentucky Derby.

Keil, who used to live near Chicago, watched the race with a dozen relatives.

"The race and everything out there was just great," said Keil, a Washington lawyer who lives in Potomac. "It was so exciting for us.

"I was not a big Cigar booster until Saturday. But carrying 130 pounds, and with that far-outside post position, he just ran a superb race."

Keil said Dr. Banting, trained now by Charles Hadry Jr. after Charles Hadry Sr. quit in a dispute about sending the horse to Arlington, probably would race next in about a month at Saratoga.

Pimlico starts Tuesday

L Laurel Park closes today. Racing resumes Tuesday at Pimlico.

Simulcast schedule

Today Philadelphia

Park 12: 45 p.m.

Arlington 1 p.m.

Belmont Park 1 p.m.

Louisiana Downs 1 p.m.

Monmouth 1 p.m.

Hollywood Park 3 p.m.

Pub Date: 7/21/96

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