Photographer extraordinaire, LAW, together with the Maryland Thoroughbred Association, gave me the quote that opens a fan’s eulogy to a horse who captured the heart and spoke to the soul.
Very late last night I caught the first, eloquent note that something was terribly wrong: Barbara Livingston had posted one of her photos of Cigar and typed in Tom Durkin’s historic call at the BC Classic (as heard above on the tape):
“…The Incomparable … Invincible … Unbeatable CIGAR…”
And I knew that Cigar was gone.
The thought of a world without him was inconceivable, as it was for the many who voiced prayers and trepidation on social media. Others were trawling the internet frantically, looking for some kind of confirmation. After all, the web has dispatched many who turned out to be alive and healthy.
Jerry Bailey said that on one of his rides on Cigar during that wondrous, undefeated season, he urged him to go and Cigar rolled his eye around at Bailey as though to say, “I know — just sit there and shut up.” It made me laugh then and it makes me smile today because that was as much Cigar as all the rest — his explosive charge to the front in what always looked, somehow, like a giant, equine shrug, or his bows to the crowd at Kentucky Horse Park in retirement, or the power within those muscles and sinews that made Cigar tower over other thoroughbreds, even in the walking ring.
When a thoroughbred captures your imagination, it’s deeply personal … the way a painting communes with a viewer, coming alive on your retina to open a surge of human feeling. And Cigar was one of those flesh-and-blood masterpieces that left no heart untouched, no soul ambivalent. Burning under that dark coat and kind eye were generations of blooded horses who had conspired to bring him to us. In the eyes that looked away and through you was something delicate, divine and unspeakable.
A Blood Moon Eclipse pulsed in the heavens last night, clothed in the hues of the Heart. Let it be your banner, embracing those who knew you best and loved you from afar.
Shine on, Cigar.