Cigar will take simulcast bow

Dubai card on program today

Ky. honor for No. 1 earner comes on Cup anniversary

March 24, 2000|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Tomorrow, on the fifth anniversary of the victory that made him an international star, Cigar will make his first appearance at a racetrack since his 1996 retirement.

Before the eighth race at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., Cigar will be paraded around the paddock and onto the track. That should be about 3: 10 or 3: 15 p.m., according to a Turfway Park spokesman. Cigar's appearance will be simulcast at Maryland tracks and betting parlors.

The Maryland-bred Cigar, Horse of the Year in 1995 and 1996, retired in late 1996 after tying the modern-day North American record of 16 wins in a row. He is still the leading money-earner in thoroughbred-racing history with a bankroll of $9,999,815.

After fertility problems ended his brief and unsuccessful career at stud, Cigar became a resident of the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. The park's executive director, John Nicholson, said Cigar's appearance tomorrow is not the beginning of a national tour for the 10-year-old champion.

Nicholson said requests for appearances would be considered on a case-by-case basis. Cigar's caretakers consented because the Northern Kentucky track is a mere 50-mile van ride for Cigar.

"He looks fantastic," Nicholson said of the park's star attraction. "He's happy. He's enjoying his public role very much."

Five years ago, Cigar won the inaugural Dubai World Cup in the Middle East. That victory transformed the American star into an international phenomenon.

Today, the fifth annual Dubai World Cup will take place. With a purse of $6 million, it is the richest race in the world.

American standouts Behrens, Ecton Park, Malek, Public Purse, Saint's Honor and Puerto Madero will challenge an international field led by Godolphin Racing's Dubai Millennium, a winner of seven of eight starts.

Five of the races from Dubai's rich program will be simulcast for betting at Pimlico, Laurel Park, Rosecroft Raceway and the state's off-track betting parlors: U.A.E. Derby at 9: 35 a.m., Dubai Golden Shaheen at 10: 35 a.m., Dubai Sheema Classic at 11: 10 a.m., Duty Free at 11: 45 a.m. and Dubai World Cup at 12: 30 p.m.

Pimlico and Laurel Park will open at 9 a.m. Patrons will be admitted free until 11: 30 a.m. The first American simulcast will occur at 10: 15 a.m. from Suffolk Downs.

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