The world's outstanding racehorse may be on his way back to the track. Cigar, the winner of $10 million (pounds 6.3m) in prize-money and of just about every award for racing achievement on offer, may have to resume his career as a runner after a brief and unsuccessful fling at stud.
There are fears that the seven-year-old may be sterile after failing to impregnate any of the first 12 mares he covered at his Kentucky base, the Ashford Stud. "Some horses that come off the race-track are slow to start," Ashford's farm manager, Barry Simon, said. "Rather than for rumours to start, we decided to go ahead and make this announcement."
Simon added that ultrasound tests will be performed in the next 10 to 20 days on other mares covered by Cigar to see if they are in foal.
Fertility specialists saw Cigar on Wednesday and will send their report to insurance companies. The horse's stud fee is $75,000 (pounds 47,000). If tests show that the horse is sterile and the insurance firms and the stud agree, then Cigar could return to racing.
"We'll have to see what the insurance company want to do," Allen Paulson, who owned Cigar during his racing career, told the Daily News in New York. "I would like to keep him at my own farm [Brookside]. All I can say is that it's a shock. We were counting on his babies awful badly."
Cigar ended his career at the age of six as the horse that had won most prize-money in the history of horse-racing. He was retired to Ashford Stud in a sale valued at $25m (pounds 15m) after he finished third in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
It was his second consecutive loss and third in four races since the end of his record 16-race winning streak, which equalled the modern record set by Citation. The streak included a 10 out of 10 record in 1995.
Fertility problems for new stallions are not particularly unusual, but more frequently occur with younger horses that have perhaps not quite reached maturity.
One reason for such a problem is the stress caused by changing from a rigorous training regime to a more relaxed lifestyle. Several prominent stallion have recovered from such difficulties to lead active lives as successful stallions.
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