12/05/2011 2:00PM

Horse of the Year? Not Rapid Redux


Eclipse Award voters will soon be receiving their ballots, and that might re-kindle the discussion that surfaced right after the Breeders’ Cup concerning Rapid Redux and Horse of the Year.

At its best, the notion of Rapid Redux being a candidate for Horse of the Year is a heart-in-the-right-place sort of thing. It is also totally misguided. If you want to give Rapid Redux a special award for winning 20 races in a row, 18 of them this year, then fine. If you want to talk about maybe creating some type of annual award for the winningest horse in the calendar year, that might be cool, too. But to even for one second consider Horse of the Year for Rapid Redux, who has 14 victories this year at the $5,000 starter allowance level, is ridiculous.

One reason why there is any talk about this at all is, after two straight years when we had two thoroughly worthy choices for Horse of the Year, we are now at the end of a season where we don’t have even one. The results of the Breeders’ Cup left us without any completely satisfying candidates for our top annual racing award.

Another reason why this has been discussed is there are no parameters to constrain Eclipse Award voters from voting for whomever they choose. This is how it should be. There is no necessarily correct definition of what constitutes a champion. Eclipse Award voters should be free to vote as they wish, just as long as they demonstrate respect for the process. And a way to do that is to exhibit professional responsibility in filling out your ballot, and by being ready to reasonably defend the choices you make on the chance you are asked to do so.

If you asked for my criteria for Horse of the Year, I would say a potential candidate would either have to dominate his or her division, or be clearly best in an extraordinarily strong division. But in a general sense, being a divisional winner is how you arrive at being a Horse of the Year finalist.

More to the point, I know that this year’s older male division was unsatisfying, punctuated by mediocrity and prematurely concluded campaigns. But Rapid Redux’s accomplishments, as admirable as they are, shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath with those handicap horses who competed and won this year at the highest levels of the sport, even if they were uninspiring as a group. The Eclipse Awards are, after all, about excellence first. Rapid Redux, as a race horse, simply isn’t in the same hemisphere as Tizway, Game On Dude, Acclamation, Drosselmeyer, and Flat Out. I can’t see how anyone could reasonably defend voting for Rapid Redux for champion older male, which you would have to do first before you could consider him for Horse of the Year.

For me, there were three horses who either dominated, or were decidedly best in good divisions this year, and they are all females (Cape Blanco, with his three Grade 1 victories, might have been the clearly most accomplished turf male, but the U.S. male turf division this year was very weak). My Miss Aurelia dominated the 2-year-old filly division, Royal Delta was clearly the best in a strong 3-year-old filly division, and Havre de Grace, especially by virtue of her Grade 1 win over males in the Woodward, was clearly the best in a solid older female division (sorry Blind Luck fans, but she was). And I can’t vote for My Miss Aurelia or Royal Delta for Horse of the Year. My Miss Aurelia won races only restricted to juvenile fillies. Royal Delta never raced against or beat males, and even if she was only prepping for the Breeders’ Cup, she was beaten by more than eight lengths by Have de Grace in the Beldame.

So I’m left with Havre de Grace for Horse of the Year, which is okay. As noted, Havre de Grace ventured outside her division and beat males, and she crushed a sure-fire divisional champion in Royal Delta. Havre de Grace was the pro-tem leader for Horse of the Year going into the Breeders’ Cup, and though she lost in the Classic, she at least went for the gusto by facing males in the Classic, and it’s not like she was disgraced. She did finish fourth, beaten three lengths for it all. Most importantly to Havre de Grace, no one else emerged from the Breeders’ Cup a strong enough Horse of the Year candidate to unseat her from the top ranking she held beforehand.

What follows are 2011 past performances for Havre de Grace and Rapid Redux. One is a true Horse of the Year candidate:

havredegrace.PDF65.29 KB
allen burdette More than 1 year ago
i agree rapid redux should get a awardfor winning the most races in a year. there will never be another race horse like zenyatta, won all her race coming, coming from behind.
tony harnett More than 1 year ago
Zenyatta should have been HOTY in 2009 and Blame was HOTY last year. As far as Rapid Redux for HOTY this year, I'm not sure he could win an open allowance race at Santa Anita. I'm looking forward to seeing him entered at SA on opening day - NOT!
Rick Martinson More than 1 year ago
COME ON: First to be listed as the best you (must) bet the best. The best horses in the world run on any track and win while running with best class horses in the world. Being the best of a bunch lower class horses is good but please don't compare Rapid Redux to horses that run in races like the Breeders Cup.
ray More than 1 year ago
i guess everywone is allowed an opinion,the facts though speak for themselves,RR is a nice feelgood story type horse,but he cant escape the fact that he probably would finish last in any of the breeders cup races,hes a slow horse,even i can win a few races if put against the right competion,now to the serious contenders( harvre de grace )is probably the most deserving of this years disapointing older horse crowd,( game on dude) is another that a case can be made for due to the lack of viable choices,(cape blanco )certanly dominated on turf and flying back and forth from europe was impressive,but this year i would go a different route,i would pick 2YO HANSEN,why?,well he proved the best of of his division,some will argue that union rags deserved to beat him and was best that day,i disagree totaly,the churchill strip heavily favored closers that day and hansen led the whole way and fought the closing union rags all the way to the wire,and the fact is he won the race fair and square,he is also unbeaten and definitely has the looks of a champ,is there is a more promising racehorse in america today?,and already an accomplished millionaire.
Henry More than 1 year ago
This is for all of you who vote for HOTY. Consider what Rapid Redux has done in 2011. Just as last years HOTY, this horse was managed to perfection. As good as people think the great Zenyatta was, she NEVER won 18 races in one year. Rapid Redux did it and not only at his track but traveled to several different tracks at several different distances. Even though it wasn't against the toughest competition, it is still an acheviement no other horse in this country has done this year. As a fan of horse racing, what Rapid Redux has done this year represents the true meaning of WINNING. Rapid Redux is not nearly the class horse Zenyatta or Rachel Alexandra were but he won 18 straight races in one year which is almost impossible to keep a horse this sound for so long.
benjamin Ricciardi More than 1 year ago
Chuck..... ARE YOU SERIOUS????? Rachel deserved everything she got way more then Big Z/rapid redux. Just another Rachel???? we may never see just another rachel in our lifetime. Rachel won the Ky Oaks by 20 lengths.... 20 lengths...... I repeat 20 lengths in the biggest race of the year for her age/sex. Then whipped the boys in the preakness, and then whipped older horses in the woodward. All 3 of those feats had been accomplished less then a handful of times in the history of american racing. Rapid redux 18 in a year is a sick season no doubt, but if they wanted a HOY title then they needed to challenge him to do something special. Winning the fourth race at laurel, penn national, or mountaineer on a thursday card is not special. I can buy a horse for $5K that can do that. Trying buying a horse for $5K that can win the KY Oaks, The preakness, and/or the woodward.... I like RR and think it's a great story and good for the lower levels that a horse gets some publicity, but after the farce that was HOY last year, it would be a travesty to give RR the award. I venture to bet that RR doesn't even win the division title and nor should he.
hialeah More than 1 year ago
That's why I put an IF in there. You win the "left a Jerry Garcia concert at Portland Meadows to bet Kotashaan" Award! (Eddie Read for those that care). Congratulations! Had him All The Way!
steve wolfson, sr. More than 1 year ago
IF criteria for Horse-of-the-Year is best to race in 2011, without requisite to have stepped hoof on American terra firma, the choice is easy: FRANKEL
Sally More than 1 year ago
Just because Rapid Redux did not compete in the"big money" races, this should not take away from his accomplishments. Actually, the horse doesn't give a damn...he's just doing his job and did it very well. But what about the trainer who took a average horse and helped him prove he is a champion. Rapid Redux is what this nation is all about and he has proved that 'the average' CAN accomplish the peak of excellence. He gets my vote and I would bet that a whole lot of 'average' people out there that are working their tails off to meet their goals will give him their vote also!
benjamin Ricciardi More than 1 year ago
I agreed with MW here. Rapid Redux had a phenominal season that the connections should be proud of, but HOY????? NO WAY. Winning 20 5K starter allowance races is a nice accomplishment, but to be HOY you need to run against and perform with other candidates for the award. Beating a whole bunch of horses who have 20-3-6-2 lifetime records with 150-200K in earnings is hardly worthy of that lofty prize. win 18 in a row with a few graded stakes sprinkled in and the argument can be made, but when a 10K allowance win is the best you can put on your resume then you can not be seriously considered. HOY is hands down Havre De Grace. Cape Blanco is the only other horse I would even consider a candidate here and I think Havre had a much better year. As MW stated, Havre de Grace trounced Royal Delta who is hands down 3 yr old filly champ, she beat males which is another feather in her cap. I believe she wins the Distaff (still can't get myself to call it the lady classic) if she ran there instead, but will not hold it against here that her connections stepped her up. If she finished a well beaten 10th then you would have an argument, but a respectable fourth (although non-threatening) after the long list of accomplishments she had is enough for me in an otherwise weak year.
Zaskar13 More than 1 year ago
But the one time RR was going to be challenged (the Claiming Crown), the owners used the excuse that only a win would make it profitable. UGH. Even they know his limitations. Please. Lets end this discussion now.
hoss More than 1 year ago
plain and simple the only award that rapid redux is best managed horse of the year,take nothing away from what he accomplished but did he really beat anything of quality.his connections could have solidified his stature had he gone to the crown and stated it wasnt cost effective when the real truth was he finally had a shot to get beat what did they have to lose?