11/23/2011 2:11PM

Rapid Redux deserves his own Eclipse

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Barbara D. Livingston
Havre de Grace would be a worthy Horse of the Year.

Why all the consternation about the 2011 Horse of the Year? Isn’t this obvious?

Not enough consistency, we keep hearing. No horse ran well over time.

Really?

What about Rapid Redux?

How many horses have even run 18 times in 2011? Seriously, 18 for 18 with December still on the horizon is ridiculous. Rapid Redux has run in every month, usually twice a month. The 5-year-old has been behind at just one call, third by a neck at Thistledown on Aug. 22.

It was exactly 10:09:24 p.m. when Rapid Redux went under the wire at Mountaineer Park on Monday for his 20th consecutive win. It was certainly helpful that three other horses, a few with some early speed, were early scratches out of the eight-horse field. That a no-hoper was scratched a minute before post time was largely irrelevant. Rapid Redux was going to the front and there probably wasn’t much the others could do about it.

Owner Robert Cole and trainer David Wells capitalized on all those starter allowance conditions by actually letting a horse that likes to run do just that. What a concept – running horses instead of waiting to run horses.

This year, with the exception of two races, Rapid Redux’s Beyers have been between 85 and 92. That is some serious consistency. He got a 78 in one of his wins. In that race where he did not have the early lead, he got just a 67. So even when he was off his game, Rapid Redux still finished first.

Rapid Redux has been favored in all 2011 races except one. He has been odds-on in every race except two. That 2-1 at Parx on Feb. 26 looks pretty nice in hindsight.

The horse ran at seven different tracks at seven different distances from five furlongs to 1 1/8 miles.

His 18th win put him over $200,000 for the year. He also won three times last year after being claimed for $6,250.

I understand Rapid Redux has no chance of being Horse of the Year, but that is some résumé.

Somebody involved with the Eclipse Awards should find a way to give this horse and his connections recognition. In a year with few great stories, this horse has been cool from Jan. 12 to Nov. 21. Should be enough time between now and New Year’s Eve to get to an even 20 for 2011 and 22 straight overall.

I am still thinking about my Horse of the Year vote, but I am probably going with Havre de Grace. And not just for what she did this year, which was considerable. It is that she is going to do more next year.

It should not matter, but if it ends up being close in my mind I will probably go with the horse that will actually keep racing.

Havre de Grace’s owner Rick Porter is unlike most of his brethren. Like Cole, he likes to run his horses. The breeding end does not interest him in the least. When his horses are beyond their best form, he sells them to the breeders and buys more horses to race.

Hard Spun was the exception as he was still in top form at the end of his 3-year-old season. But Porter got a great stud deal, a deal so good that it made up for years worth of losses. So he took it and spent some more at the sales.

Havre de Grace will race in 2012. Porter told me in Kentucky that the filly would have one goal above all others. Porter wants to win the Delaware Handicap in the worst way. Until the Breeders’ Cup Classic, it was the only race Havre de Grace lost all year. And that was only because Blind Luck would not lose, getting her nose down at the wire when all looked lost several times in the stretch.

Porter was not thrilled when Havre de Grace did everything but win the DelCap. So, he will try again.

Porter, who lives in nearby Wilmington, has been going to Delaware Park since he was a boy. He wants to see the Fox Hill Farm silks hanging in the DelCap room.

Porter would also like to see Union Rags win the 2012 Kentucky Derby. He finished second twice in the Derby, with Hard Spun (2007) and Eight Belles (2008).

Porter’s good friend Phyllis Wyeth owns Union Rags. Her showplace farm lies in both Delaware and Pennsylvania. The pair talk horses regularly.
One may own the Horse of the Year in 2011, the other the 2012 Derby winner.

But neither owns Rapid Redux, the horse that won’t lose.

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