BAL HARBOUR, Fla. -- To the surprise of no one, Cigar was named 1996 Horse of the Year last night at the 26th annual Eclipse Awards at this resort near Miami.
Maryland-bred Cigar became the first back-to-back winner of horse racing's highest honor since Affirmed in 1978 and 1979.
In presenting the award, Hal Handel, president of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, called Cigar a legend. In accepting, Cigar's owner, Allen E. Paulson, called him a dream horse.
It was Paulson's fourth award of the evening. He won as outstanding owner, and Cigar won as outstanding older horse. Paulson also received the Eclipse Award of Merit for racing Cigar -- instead of retiring him -- during the 1996 season.
Other Eclipse Awards were presented to horses and humans for outstanding achievement in 1996. Those winners were announced earlier and included the remaining members of Team Cigar: jockey Jerry Bailey and trainer Bill Mott.
Another winner was Skip Away, champion 3-year-old. He is owned by Carolyn Hine, a native of Baltimore, and trained by her husband, Sonny, who trained horses in Maryland for nearly 30 years.
Born in April 1990 at Country Life Farm near Bel Air, Cigar put together a 16-race winning streak that matched Citation's 20th-century, North American record.
Cigar was retired in October as the highest-earning thoroughbred of all time, winning nearly $10 million.
Pub Date: 2/05/97