Those who have spent any time around a live race track will tell you that cigars are enjoyed by many horse bettors. You may be making most of your bets at an online racebook, but you can still savor a cigar after a nice winning bet. Here’s a closer look at how cigars relate to horse racing, and how one of the most famous race horses shared the name of this type of tobacco.
The Cigar-Smoking Handicapper
Somehow over time the image of the horse racing bettor smoking a fat cigar became very popular. It is likely that some of the oldest American handicappers smoked a stogie now and then. That includes Pittsburgh Phil, one of the most legendary horse racing bettors of all time. The Racing Maxims of Pittsburgh Phil became one of the most important books of horse racing betting, but nary a word is said about cigars.
We don’t really know if Pittsburgh Phil smoked cigars or not. All we know is that an image developed throughout the 1900s of the cigar-smoking bettor. It could be that the association comes from the Mafia ties that were sometimes linked to horse racing. Al Capone was a big fan of cigars, and he was the face of the American Mafia for many decades.
No matter how it developed, the image exists. Those who visit live race tracks or horse racing betting parlors in Las Vegas expect to see someone smoking a cigar or smell the familiar aroma. To many bettors, this is comforting.
Cigar Smoking and the Kentucky Derby
Each year the Kentucky Derby is one of the most popular sporting events. It is attended by celebrities and regular people, and a big part of the festivities is taking part in fine food, drink, and the occasional cigar.
According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, cigar smoking has evolved into a social activity at the Kentucky Derby. Some people believe that this can be traced to horse racing’s jockey Steve Cauthen. The young Cauthen won the Triple Crown on Affirmed in 1978. He was photographed after the Belmont Stakes enjoying a big cigar.
The image came to represent success at the horse racing track, both as an athlete and a bettor. At the Kentucky Derby there are parties devoted to sampling cigars and the best bourbon. These things are synonymous with success, and successful is what all horse racing bettors want to be.
Making Cigar Smoking a Part of a Winning Horse Racing Betting Routine
Our team of writers and handicappers has been privileged to know many professional handicappers over the years, and we have observed many horse racing traditions. One of these seems to be enjoying a cigar after a big win at the race track.
There are some handicappers who only smoke when they win a bet of a certain size. At other times they may keep an unlit cigar in their mouth as a habit. Either way, this can become a routine for the horse racing bettor. If you ask anyone on the race track, routines can quickly turn into superstitions.
The bettor may have been smoking a cigar the last time a large bet was won. Superstition takes hold and now the bettor believes that he should be smoking all the time.
The Great Race Horse Cigar
No discussion on horse racing betting and cigars would be complete without a mention of the legendary Cigar. Cigar was a race horse that won an amazing 16 races in a row. He became the first horse to do that. Cigar was trained by William Mott and ridden by Jerry Bailey.
The interesting thing about Cigar is that the horse was not really named after the tobacco product! Cigar’s owner was an aviation professional who named the horse after an aviation term. Even so, most people today associate the horse with smoking.
Cigar Bars and Horse Racing Tracks
It is common today for many live race tracks to have a cigar bar among the concessions. This is a place where horse racing bettors can go to have a drink and a cigar, and they can talk about the day’s wins or losses. Many of them feel like commiserating goes better with a strong tobacco.
In these areas of the live race track do not be surprised to find the walls decorated with paintings of legendary horses from bygone eras. There is an atmosphere of elegance when it comes to cigar bars, and at some tracks like Saratoga you can find the very best handmade cigars. Of course, be prepared to pay handsomely for the privilege of smoking one.
Now, don’t feel left out if you are betting from home with an online racebook. We recommend finding yourself a good cigar, a good bourbon, and a quiet place to do your handicapping. You can find excellent betting opportunities at Amwager or any of the online racebooks that we recommend.
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