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Kentucky's Douwe Blumberg to sculpt 'lasting memorial' to Thoroughbred champion Cigar

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Thoroughbred champion Cigar, shown here at his Kentucky Horse Park ‘retirement home,’ died Oct. 7, 2014. Click here to read more.


The Kentucky Horse Park has commissioned artist Douwe “Dow” Blumberg to sculpt a depiction of Thoroughbred champion Cigar to honor the horse that died this past October at age 24.

Blumberg was selected, 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.

Kentucky artist Douwe Blumberg

Kentucky artist Douwe Blumberg

“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.”

The Kentucky Horse Park Foundation is able to commission a statue due to financial support from all over the world. The statue will be placed at Cigar’s gravesite at the Hall of Champions.

In May 1999, Cigar came to the park to live out his retirement. 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, Kentucky, 40511, made by phone at 859-255-5727, or online at www.khpfoundation.org

You might also be interested in reading Horse trainer turned sculptor achieves international acclaim for larger-that-life work on KyForward.

And see more of Blumberg’s work below:

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