At 2pm on November 14, an icy breeze denied the warmth of the sunlight that slipped by the clouds drifting over the Bluegrass. This same cold breeze wove through the columns of the Hall of Champions pavilion and nipped the cheeks of the people gathered inside. But despite the chill, at that moment the love for a great horse made the pavilion the warmest spot in the Kentucky Horse Park.
Welcome to Cigar's memorial.
|"Unconquerable, invincible, unbeatable"|
A shuttle took my mom and me to the location of the memorial, which left little time to prepare myself for his grave. As we got off the shuttle, I spotted it next to Cigar's paddock--a swath of black bark bare except for a gray headstone and a couple flower bouquets. It was an emotional punch to the gut. But honestly, if I had all the time in the world to prepare, the response would have been the same.
|My mom signing Cigar's guest book.|
|Hot cocoa in hand, my mom says hello to Funny Cide.|
On the monitors in the Hall of Champions pavilion, within the list of current Hall of Champions residents, Cigar's name was highlighted for the last time. Beneath these monitors the tributes and accolades flowed, and as sad as the memorial was, I was very grateful to be there with my mother, who watched Cigar race with me all those years ago.
You may watch a video of Cigar's memorial here. Many thanks to the Kentucky Horse Park for providing me with a sign language interpreter for the memorial service.
|The memorial service.|
|Cigar's empty stall.|
|The Hall of Champions.|
|Flowers fill the bare oval of Cigar's grave. The Kentucky Horse Park will place a bronze statue of Cigar at the head of his grave next year.|
A large banner hung behind Cigar's grave. Sharpies were provided for signatures. "Thanks for the memories" I noted on the banner. I paused then added a couple hearts. Hearts are not something that I draw loosely or often, but I knew the teenage girl in me--the one that watched the great horse run--would approve.
|Man o' War's grave.|
|The Kentucky Horse Park--quiet on a cold day.|