Lexington, KY - The Kentucky Horse Park has commissioned artist Douwe "Dow" Blumberg to sculpt a depiction of Thoroughbred champion Cigar to honor the horse that died Oct. 7, 2014, at age 24. Due to support of the Cigar Memorial Fund from all over the world, the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation is able to commission a statue which will be placed at Cigar's gravesite at the Hall of Champions.
The Kentucky Horse Park selected Blumberg, in part, because he is a Kentucky artist and former professional horse trainer. The bronze sculpture will be a depiction of Cigar's 1995 Breeders' Cup victory and will include a likeness of jockey Jerry Bailey. The statue is expected to be completed by October 2015, with a tentative ceremony planned to honor Cigar during the week leading up to the Breeders' Cup, which is being held in Lexington for the first time this year on Oct. 30-31.
"The selection committee had the tough job of choosing from excellent proposals from some of the best sculptors in America," said Bill Cooke, director of the Kentucky Horse Park's International Museum of the Horse. "We are confident that Douwe Blumberg will create a lasting memorial that will best capture the spirit and determination of Cigar, the horse we knew and loved."
In May 1999, Cigar came to the park to live out his retirement at the Hall of Champions. At retirement, Cigar had a total of 19 wins out of 33 starts with earnings of $9,999,815, a record at that time. He was voted Champion Older Male and Horse of the Year in both 1995 and 1996. In August 2002 he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
Cigar died following complications from surgery for severe osteoarthritis in his neck. He was buried near fellow racing champions on the Memorial Walk of Champions.
"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."
Blumberg, originally from Los Angeles, California, now resides north of Lexington. He has completed more than 200 private and public commissions and has numerous awards, residencies and shows to his credit. His works include New York City's new America's Response Monument at ground zero, the Flight 5191 memorial in Lexington, Kentucky and other iconic sculptures across the United States.
Additional contributions are being sought to complete the sculpture base and landscaping at the Cigar Memorial. Contributions may 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 at www.khpfoundation.org.