Cigar was 24 when he died in October 2014 from complications from surgery for osteoarthritis in his neck. He was buried on the Memorial Walk of Champions.
The horse park says Cigar came to the park in May 1999 to retire at the Hall of Champions. During his career, he had a total of 19 wins out of 33 starts with record earnings of $9,999,815. Cigar was voted Champion Older Male and Horse of the Year in both 1995 and 1996. He was also inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2002.
Blumberg, who lives outside of Lexington, also created the Flight 5191 memorial. The park says it selected him to create the statue, in part, because he is a Kentucky artist and former professional horse trainer. It says the bronze sculpture will be a depiction of Cigar’s 1995 Breeders’ Cup victory and will include a likeness of jockey Jerry Bailey.
"The Horse Park has been a special place for me ever since the days when I was a professional horse trainer and I am thrilled that this will be my first large work here," said Blumberg. "Being selected to create the Cigar Memorial is a wonderfully exciting honor because he was unique. My goal with this piece is to try to capture and communicate something of his incomparable power and dynamism. Though I have completed literally hundreds of equine works, what I intend to do here will make it one of the most challenging."
Worldwide support of the Cigar Memorial Fund made the sculpture possible. It’s expected to be finished by October 2015, with a tentative ceremony planned to honor Cigar during the week leading up to the Breeders’ Cup.
The Kentucky Horse Park says financial contributions are still needed to finish the sculpture base and landscaping at the Cigar Memorial. Donations can be sent to the Cigar Memorial Fund at the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, 4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511, or made by phone at 859-255-5727, or online.