LAUREL PARK | STARTER ALLOWANCE | PURSE: $17,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | 1 MILE
New year, same result for record-setting Rapid Redux, who dashed to his 22nd consecutive victory in the sixth race Wednesday at Laurel Park.
Making the lead less than a furlong into the $5,000 starter-allowance race, heavily favored Rapid Redux was hounded by Awesome Rhythm, the 5-2 second-choice, through splits of 24.14 seconds for his opening quarter-mile, 47.57 for the first half, and six furlongs in 1:12.10. And while Rapid Redux could not land a knockout blow, he held his pursuer at bay to score by three-quarters of a length, going the one-turn mile in 1:38.24. Rapid Redux, ridden by J.D. Acosta, paid $2.80 to win.
Rapid Redux's participation in the race came into question after trainer David Wells revealed Tuesday that the horse had grabbed a quarter several days before, opening a cut on his right front foot. The injury was deemed well enough healed Wednesday morning for Rapid Redux to be shipped from Wells' base at Penn National to Laurel, but Wells feared that missed training time might catch up to Rapid Redux in the long stretch run. Laurel's main track has two finish lines, with one-turn miles ending at the second one.
"The 47-second half made me really nervous," Wells said. "We had to really back off him the last three or four days, just jogging and whatever, and that's why I was worried about the second wire."
Both Wells and owner Robert Cole had talked in December about the possibility of Rapid Redux being retired early this year. Cole, reached by phone not long after Wednesday's race, said Rapid Redux would race on.
"We'll give it a week and start looking at the condition books again," he said. "The game plan is to keep running him as long as he's healthy."
Rapid Redux hasn't started in a claiming race since 2010, and many starter-allowance races in 2012 will be restricted to horses that have raced for a claiming price no farther back than 2011. But, Cole said, he already had found suitable starter-allowance races for Rapid Redux at five different tracks.
"How long that will last, I don't know. But racing secretaries can write these races any way they want. If they write him in, we'll be glad to go there," Cole said.
Cole claimed Rapid Redux, who just turned 6, for $6,250 in October 2010. The horse won an $8,000 claimer on Dec. 2, 2010 at Penn National, setting in motion the winning streak that, on Wednesday, earned him a Special Eclipse Award for his 2011 accomplishments. Rapid Redux won 19 races last year, equaling Citation's 1958 mark for wins in a single season. His 22 straight victories best by three the recent 19-race streaks of Peppers Pride and Zenyatta.