For the second straight year, Cigar and his two-legged associates dominated voting for horse racing's most prestigious awards.
In results announced yesterday, Cigar won the Eclipse Award for outstanding older horse, while awards also went to his owner, Allen E. Paulson; his trainer, Bill Mott, and his jockey, Jerry Bailey.
Cigar's human connections also won last year, riding the back of the great Maryland-bred who thrilled the racing world by winning 16 races in a row.
Although the 1996 Horse of the Year will not be announced until Feb. 4 at the Eclipse Awards dinner in Bal Harbour, Fla., Cigar is the odds-on favorite to win as he did in 1995. The 7-year-old rangy bay has been retired to stud in Kentucky as the richest thoroughbred in history with earnings just $185 shy of $10 million.
"I'm going to miss the big guy, no doubt," said Bailey, who rode Cigar but also won the Kentucky Derby aboard Grindstone and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile aboard Boston Harbor. "I'll miss him especially when I turn for home in a lot of big races."
Skip Away won the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old. Owned by Carolyn Hine, a Baltimore native, and trained by her husband, Sonny, Skip Away is one of the few horses in training with the pizazz to become the people's champion.
"You'd be amazed at the number of letters we get," Sonny Hine said about the broad gray colt. "When we were in Kentucky he got 50, 60 visitors a day."
Hine said he believes Skip Away, who beat Cigar in the fall, earned Horse of the Year honors. But Hine, who trained horses in Maryland for nearly three decades, said he expects the crown to go to Cigar.
"He [Cigar] has been great for racing," Hine said. "If I finish second to him, which I probably will, I'll be grateful to finish that close."
The Hines plan for Skip Away this year calls for a debut Feb. 8 in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Also on their calendar is the Pimlico Special on May 10 here in Baltimore.
Skip Away was the most consistent 3-year-old in North America, finishing second in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes and winning the Blue Grass Stakes, Ohio Derby, Haskell Invitational Handicap, Woodbine Million and Jockey Club Gold Cup, where he edged Cigar by a head.
Based on voting by the National Turf Writers Association, Daily Racing Form and racing secretaries of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, here are some other Eclipse Award winners:
Boston Harbor is champion 2-year-old, and Storm Song is champion 2-year-old filly. They both capped the year Oct. 26 with a victory on Breeders' Cup Championship day at Woodbine near Toronto.
Yanks Music is champion 3-year-old filly. She dominated her division, winning five races, including four Grade I stakes.
Jewel Princess is champion older female, and Lit De Justice is champion sprinter. They also both won on Breeders' Cup Championship day.
2-year-old colt or gelding
Boston Harbor 30; Ordway 10; Swiss Yodeler 1; Jules .3; Red .3; Traitor .3.
Storm Song 30; Sharp Cat 9.2; City Band 4.2; Ajina 1.7; Southern Playgirl 1.7; Oath 1.2.
3-year-old colt or gelding
Skip Away 30; Louis Quatorze 8; Grindstone 3; Cavonnier 1.
Yanks Music 30; My Flag 15; Pike Place Dancer 1.5; Listening 1.5.
Colt, horse, or gelding, 4 & up
Cigar 30; Alphabet Soup 10; Wekiva Springs 1.
Filly or mare, 4 & up
Jewel Princess 30; Serena's Song 15; Twice the Vice 1.3; Exotic Wood .3; Different .3.
Singspiel 22.5; Fastness 15; Diplomatic Jet 8.5; Pilsudski 1; Mecke 1.
Wandesta 30; Timarida 10.5; Windsharp 7; Donna Viola .5.
Lit de Justice 30; Honour and Glory 6; Chaposa Springs 5.5; Paying Dues 5; Langfuhr .5.
Correggio 30; Cheering News 6; Petroski 6.
Allen Paulson 2; Overbrook Farm 1.
William Mott 2; D. Wayne Lukas 1.
Jerry Bailey 3.
Outstanding apprentice jockey
Neil Poznansky 3.
(Voted by six-person panel)
Farnsworth Farms 40; Allen Paulson 26; Overbrook Farm 21; Juddmonte Farms 8; Foxfield 1.
Pub Date: 1/10/97