10/26/2011 4:01PM

Rapid Redux bids to join Zenyatta, Peppers Pride with No. 19


One year ago, if you had to predict which horse would win its next 18 races, it would have taken you a while to get to Rapid Redux. You might still be picking horses today before drawing his name.

Even with his 18-race winning streak, one shy of the North American record set by the champion Zenyatta and the New Mexico-bred Peppers Pride, Rapid Redux's lifetime record is more Rocky Balboa than Rocky Marciano: 24 wins in 38 starts. (You can download his lifetime past performances here.) Prior to the streak he had won six times in 20 starts. His highest Beyer Speed Figure in that span was 79; during the winning streak he has run as fast as a 92, with only two races below 80. Perhaps the streak coincides with his gelding? As Mickey would say, "Women weaken legs."

Rapid Redux's first two wins in the streak came in claiming races. Indeed, he had just been claimed himself three races prior. (In his final start for former trainer Kevin J. Fields, Redux won but was disqualified and placed 8th.) Since then, Redux hasn't raced above low-level allowances at tracks such as Charles Town, Timonium, and Penn National. His attempt at No. 19 will come in Thursday's sixth race at Laurel Park (Watch the race live on DRF.com.)

So it's easy to knock Rapid Redux as somehow being unworthy of sharing this record, especially with the iconic Zenyatta. But here's the thing: It's not easy to win 19 in a row of anything in major sports. If there is any sport in which nothing is a sure thing, it's horse racing. For confirmation of this, just ask the guy who loses a $20,000 show bet when the heavy favorite fails to hit the board. Just being healthy enough to make 19 consecutive starts in horse racing can be a minor miracle in itself, to say nothing of winning all 19.

For comparison's sake, let's see how the American Thoroughbred record of 19 straight wins compares to the country's other major sports:

• NFL: Indianapolis Colts, 23, 2008-09
• MLB: N.Y. Giants, 26, Sept. 7-30, 1916
• NBA: LA Lakers, 33, 1971-72
• NHL: Penguins, 17, 1992-93
• College Football: Oklahoma, 47, 1953-57
• College Basketball: UCLA, 88, 1971-74

With the exception of Peyton Manning's Colts and perhaps Mario Lemieux's Penguins, these records were set so long ago that these sports were fundamentally different at the time (e.g. no 3-point line, no scholarship limits, no travel west of St. Louis, etc.). If Rapid Redux does claim his piece of immortality tomorrow, who are we to deny him?