LAUREL, Md. — Rapid Redux’s trainer, David Wells, watched as his horse came down the stretch Tuesday with Awesome Rhythm chasing him close. He started to walk away instead of watching the end.
“From my angle, he got beat,” Wells said.
Rapid Redux didn’t get beat, instead holding off the hard-charging Awesome Rhythm for his 22nd consecutive victory, tacking another onto his modern-day U.S. record.
“I keep having this horse right next to me; I keep feeling breathing on my back the whole time,” winning jockey J.D Acosta said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to have some competition today.’”
Competition is usually not Rapid Redux’s strong suit. He likes to run to the front and keep it that way.
“Durability is his greatest trait and his gameness through the stretch, not letting people go past him,” owner Robert Cole said. “He actually trains that way. When he’s out on the track in the mornings, he doesn’t want anybody to go by him. That’s why the horse wins each time is because he’s determined not to let anyone go by him.”
Rapid Redux’s final margin was three-quarters of a length, not the shortest margin during his streak but enough to make Wells and Cole nervous. A cut on the gelding’s front right foot was reason for concern going into the race, and Wells noted there was around a 70 percent chance Tuesday that Rapid Redux wouldn’t be able to race.
But when his foot checked out OK, possibly aided by the freezing temperatures, Rapid Redux was a no-brainer to go in yet another starter allowance race that played into his advantage.
“The way we’re planning it is if he’s healthy, he’s going to run,” Cole said. “If he’s not healthy, we’re not going to run him. We hope that he wins each time he’s healthy.”
Whether Rapid Redux gets the chance to run again remains to be seen. It was announced earlier in the day that the horse would receive the special Eclipse Award for “extraordinary service, individual achievements in, or contributions to the sport of Thoroughbred racing,” and Wells said he’d know in three days whether Rapid Redux had run — and won — his final race.
“He’s just got so much heart,” Wells said. “This horse is just amazing: The pedigree and the heart.”