He wasn't the fastest of his era and may not have been the most talented, and there are some who still argue that he took advantage of a weak group of competitors. But what made Cigar so special is that for a stretch of some 20 months, he always delivered. He was Cal Ripken-esque. He always showed up and always gave you his very best.
But none of that mattered. What mattered was the streak and what it represented. I was there in person for 14 of the 16 wins, missing only the Jan. 22, 1995 allowance win at Gulfstream and the 1995 Oaklawn Handicap. Once this thing got rolling, it was unlike anything racing had ever experienced. His races were more than an event. They were a phenomenon. As he entered the gate, electricity would storm through the racetrack, and his crossing the wire would be greeted with a thunderclap of adulation.