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Cigar a horse of honor here, but not in Ky.


On his seventh birthday, Cigar received one more award: 1996 Maryland-bred Horse of the Year.

At the Maryland Horse Breeders Association annual awards dinner Friday at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, Cigar received the award about seven hours after a birthday party in his honor at Country Life Farm.

On April 18, 1990, Cigar was born at the breeding farm near Bel Air. As Marylanders know better than anyone, Cigar became the best-known and most-loved horse in the world as he ran off win after win -- 16 in all, tying Citation's modern record.

About noon at Country Life Farm, the Pons family that owns the farm and the employees who work there gathered for a party of cake and presentations.

Richard Harris, the broodmare manager, received a clock with a brass plaque honoring "the man who foaled Cigar." The birth at 5: 45 a.m. was uneventful.

The Pons also placed a plaque on the foaling barn -- recently painted and spruced up -- noting the "birthplace of champion Cigar, twice America's Horse of the Year, leading money earner of all time who equaled Citation's record of 16 wins in a row."

And then Country Life Farm went back to work -- breeding its stallions, including the state's leader, Allen's Prospect, and keeping a ready eye on broodmares preparing to foal.

Meanwhile, at Ashford Stud in Kentucky, where Cigar retired to stud last fall, the day passed with no party, not even an extra carrot, according to the woman who answers the phone there.

The farm manager was not available to comment, and questions about Cigar's day went unanswered. In fact, the woman and some farm workers in the office had a good laugh over someone from Maryland wondering how Cigar spends his day.

After being bred to 34 mares and impregnating none, Cigar is breeding no more. The $25 million infertility policy purchased by his owners, including Allen E. Paulson, is to be paid May 3.

Then Cigar will become the property of the insurance company. Paulson has said he is confident he can buy back Cigar and "provide a good home for the horse for the rest of his life."

Until that transpires, Cigar remains at Ashford Stud, a plush farm in the rolling hills near Lexington. Doing what?

"He's a horse," the woman said, as if that answered the question. "The guys here are getting a kick out of this."

Oh yeah? What's so funny?

That attitude -- "he's a horse" -- is precisely why so many people have grumbled about Ashford Stud's handling of Cigar. And not only reporters have complained. So, too, privately, have people close to Cigar.

Ashford Stud may be a world leader in breeding horses, but it has much to learn about public relations. Cigar is not just a horse, as anyone in Maryland -- or anywhere else -- can tell you. That fact has seemingly been lost on Ashford Stud.

Meyerhoff honored

Cigar wasn't the only horse or human recognized by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.

Robert E. Meyerhoff was named leading breeder for the fifth year in a row. He bred seven 1996 stakes winners, including Clash by Night, the Maryland-bred 3-year-old male champion.

Allen's Prospect was honored as leading sire -- by total earnings, stakes winners and general winners. His nine stakes winners last year included Grade I victor King of the Heap and multiple-winners Tanja and Secret Prospect.

C. Oliver Goldsmith's Turn Capp was Broodmare of the Year. The homebred daughter of Turn to Reason has produced 17 foals in the past 18 years -- including 13 winners and three stakes winners (Capp It Off, Say Capp and Capp the Power).

Other honorees were Smoke Glacken as champion 2-year-old male; Assault John, champion 2-year-old filly; Clamorosa, champion 3-year-old filly; Urbane, champion older female; Awad champion turf runner, and Circuit Bar, champion steeplechaser.

Urbane, a 5-year-old Citidancer mare, was recently retired and will be bred to Gone West. A stakes winner in each of her three racing seasons, she is owned by Jan, Mace and Samantha Siegel and was bred by Violet Cleveland and Frank J. Zureick.

Special post time Thursday

For one day only, post time at Pimlico will be 3 p.m. Thursday. The 10-race card will conclude shortly after 7.

Jim Mango, chief administrative officer of the Maryland Jockey Club, said the change came at the request of racing officials in New York. With the California tracks between meets, they needed races for simulcasting through their off-track-betting and home-betting networks.

"We obviously want to give our product as much exposure as possible," Mango said.

Doors will open Thursday at normal time for simulcasting.

Back on top

Winning eight races in two days -- five Thursday and three Friday -- Edgar Prado seized the jockey lead at Pimlico from Carlos H. Marquez Jr. Marquez won one on each day.

As of Friday, Prado had 15 and Marquez 14. Based in New Jersey, Marquez has spent the winter in Maryland riding for John Tammaro III and other trainers. Tammaro's standouts are Concerto and Secret Prospect.

OK in Kentucky

Trainer Gary Capuano reports that all is well in Kentucky. He and Captain Bodgit, co-favorite in the Kentucky Derby, arrived early last week.

After Captain Bodgit galloped on the quirky Churchill Downs track, Capuano said: "He seems to love it. He adapts to anything."

Capuano, 33, participating in his first Kentucky Derby, said Captain Bodgit will continue galloping in the morning until probably midweek. Then he'll pick up the pace and breeze for the first time.

Pub Date: 4/20/97

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