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American champion Cigar, winner of the inaugural Dubai World Cup, has died aged 24.

A release from Kentucky Horse Park said Cigar died from complications following surgery for severe osteoarthritis in his neck.

Cigar won 19 of 33 starts and earned nearly $10 million but was best known for his incredible run of 16 wins that made him the first horse to tie the record set by the legendary Citation.

A victory at Aqueduct in October 1994 began the famed run which included victories in the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pimlico Special. He was Horse of the Year in 1995 and 1996.

Jerry Bailey, who was aboard Cigar for the final 15 races of his winning streak, said he was one of a kind.

“He was the best of his generation and certainly the best horse I ever rode,” Bailey said.

Cigar was retired in 1999 and inducted to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2002.

After going 10-for-10 in 1995 Cigar started 1996 by winning in Dubai and later that year, Arlington Park created a special race, the Arlington Citation Challenge, for Cigar to match the 1948 Triple Crown winner’s 16-race streak.

Cigar did that by pulling away down the straight as the heavy favourite in a 10-horse field.

Bailey blamed himself for losing the race that ended the run, the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, when he was beaten by 40-1 shot Dare And Go.

Cigar did not race until his three-year-old season, winning just two of nine races that year for trainer Alex Hassinger.

He was then sent to be trained by Bill Mott. He had only sporadic success racing on turf so Mott switched him back to dirt racing, and the horse responded by winning at Aqueduct by eight lengths.

Thus began the winning streak that matched the record held by Citation.

Kentucky Horse Park said Cigar would be buried on the Memorial Walk of Champions near other greats Alysheba, Bold Forbes, Forego, John Henry and Kona Gold.

 
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