Rapid Redux's attempt to win his 22nd consecutive race highlights Wednesday's opening-day card at Laurel Park.
Trainer David Wells and owner Robert Cole had a scare when Rapid Redux suffered a cut near his right front foot several days ago, casting doubt whether the horse would make the trip from his base at Penn National Race Course to run in Wednesday's sixth race, but Cole confirmed Rapid Redux for the one-mile starter allowance on Wednesday morning. He is listed as the track's 3-5 morning-line favorite in a field of eight.
Wells and Cole were prepared to end Rapid Redux's racing career when the calendar turned to 2012 because the now 6-year-old gelding would no longer be eligible for the $5,000 starter races that he dominated at racetracks throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and did not want to risk losing him in a claiming race.
Laurel's condition book, however, included a starter allowance on the first day of the 2012 48-day winter meet that was open to horses who ran for a $5,000 claiming price or less in 2010 or 2011. So Rapid Redux would get at least one more chance to extend a winning streak that began Dec. 2, 2010.
Rapid Redux closed out his 2011 campaign with a half-length win going 1 1/16 miles at Laurel on Dec. 13 to become the first United States-based horse since Citation in 1948 to win 19 races in one season.
"I didn't want to race him him anymore, but he came out of that last race sound, so we will race him one or two more times and then retire him," Wells said.
Wells and Cole would like to see Rapid Redux wind up at a place where his presence can help enhance the visibility of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. Among the possibilities are CANTER South Carolina, Old Friends, and the Kentucky Horse Park.
Although it is unlikely Rapid Redux will garner enough support for an Eclipse Award, he is one of four finalists, along with Goldikova, Havre de Grace, and Uncle Mo, for the "Secretariat Vox Populi Award," a popularity contest created by Secretariat's owner, Penny Chenery. The winner will be announced Jan. 15 at Santa Anita.
Among Rapid Redux's seven rivals on Wednesday, the most dangerous are the John Rigatierri-trained coupled entry of Awesome Rhythm and Ninth Client. Awesome Rhythm was the close runner-up to Rapid Redux three weeks ago. Ninth Client most recently finished second in a first-level allowance.
Laurel will race Wednesday through Saturday during its winter meet, which concludes March 24. First post time is 12:35 p.m. Eastern. The stakes schedule has not been finalized.