Kentucky Horse Park Welcomes Cigar

Kentucky's Thoroughbred focus shifted Sunday from Louisville to Lexington where the Kentucky Horse Park celebrated two stellar additions to its facility. Both reached the park after months of negotiating, speculating, and hoping.

Nearly 200 people gathered for a 3 p.m. ceremony to welcome two-time Horse of the Year Cigar to the park, his new permanent home. The champion looked sleek, fit, and surprisingly unaffected by all the commotion surrounding his arrival. After a brief introduction by John Nicholson, the park's executive director, Cigar was led to his new stall and paddock where he trotted and cantered the length of the area, sniffed his new surroundings, and even struck a few poses for his fans. Less than a half-hour later he apparently felt at home and demonstrated it by pawing the ground, throwing his feet in the air, and taking a roll in the grass.

“He's been comfortable since the very first minute,” Nicholson said.

Cigar arrived at the park around 12:45 p.m. EST, from Watercress Farm near Paris, Ky., where he was in the care of Dr. Phil McCarthy. David Dunnett was on hand representing Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A., the insurance company which owns Cigar. The decision was made to keep him at the park after efforts to reverse his infertility failed.

“We had a number of options, but the best option was that he should come here,” Dunnett said. “There are two things we were concerned with. First, Cigar's welfare. And second, recognizing what an important horse he is. I'm sure (this decision) could not be improved upon. We're delighted.”

The Park was to host more guests Sunday evening for a reception to celebrate a new interactive exhibit constructed to accompany the Calumet Farm Trophy Collection, now permanently at the park. The 523 trophies, 28 paintings, three photographs, and three cherry trophy cases were embroiled in bankruptcy court for nearly two years before the park purchased the collection for $2.7 million last September. The trophies have been on loan to the Horse Park since 1982. The new exhibit includes video and audio from some of the farm's biggest races.

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