Hidden by Cigar smoke – Racing’s Greatest Breeders’Cup Performance

By Art Parker

I’ve seen them all. Every single Breeders’ Cup race. I may not have bet on all of them. A couple of times I couldn’t get to the OTB and was forced to watch from home. I’ve seen them all from Wild Again’s huge upset in the first Breeders’ Cup Classic to Goldikova’s three romps in the Mile. I’ve seen them all as they happened. And I’ve seen almost all of them several times via replay. Some I’ve seen a dozen times.

So I’m prepared for any argument offered by anyone as to who was the best ever on Breeders’ Cup Day. That is always a good argument since those that vote obviously place a great value on the outcome of the races on Breeders’ Cup day.

Among all of the races there is one that stands heads above all others when it comes to a championship display. In my eyes, nothing comes close to the performance by Inside Information at Belmont Park in 1995. Absolutely nothing.

The sad news for Inside Information is that she will always play second fiddle because her splendid effort is overshadowed by Cigar’s victory in the Classic. Cigar, who died this month, was the beneficiary of what NYRA’s legendary race caller Tom Durkin said was his greatest race call….”the unconquerable, invincible, unbeatable Cigar.”

Durkin was right about Cigar, and the son of Palace Music was a great champion. Cigar was the entire talk and garnered almost every breath of news regarding thoroughbred racing in 1995. Cigar ran a memorable race a couple of hours after Inside Information, but, with all due respect to the late champion, the filly’s performance rattled the bowels of the earth by comparison.

The daughter of Private Account completely and totally embarrassed a field that included her outstanding stable mate that finished second, Heavenly Prize, a filly that many thought was the better part of the Shug McGaughey/Phipps entry.

According to the Blood Horse, her final time of 1:46.15 for 1 1/8 miles was within six-tenths (3/5) of matching Secretariat’s track record for the distance set in 1973, and Big Red recorded his time on a fast track.

Here are the times for Inside Information for the Distaff:

23.00   45.90   1:09.42   1:33.50   1:46.15

A couple of hours later, Cigar won the Classic with the following times:

24.21   48.35   1:12.36   1:35.67   1:59.58

Inside Information captured the Distaff by 13 ½ lengths. Cigar won the Classic by 2 ½ lengths. The track was muddy.

I remember sitting at the big round table that Breeders’ Cup with my usual buddies. When Belmont signed off and before we got back to playing the claimers at other tracks around the country, we had a brief discussion about the day. When I asked, who was the star of the day Cigar failed to get a single vote from six experienced players.  It was all about Inside Information. One of the guys said she could have beat Cigar. Maybe so. I am convinced that had she faced Cigar the big boy would have at least left the track knowing he had been in one helluva fight.

The other thing I know about Inside Information’s Breeders’ Cup win is that it serves as the example of what a great champion should look like on a championship stage. When you think of a champion on Breeders’ Cup day it is easy to think of her.

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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