11/21/2011 10:57PM

Rapid Redux sets record with 20th straight victory

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The only tension in Rapid Redux’s record-setting win on a wet Monday night at Mountaineer Racetrack came before the race even began. Balky and lashing out with his hind legs, Rapid Redux declined to be led into his starting stall for the eighth race, where he was the 1-9 favorite and, for a moment, the focal point of the racing world. The starting gate crew, exercising patience, opened the front doors of the stall, and after one more mule kick, Rapid Redux went in.

The latch sprang, jockey DeShawn Parker guided Rapid Redux to an easy lead, and that was all she wrote.

Never seriously challenge by anyone in a one-mile race that scratched down to four runners, Rapid Redux dominated still another $5,000 starter-allowance race, winning by four lengths for his 20th straight victory and eclipsing the modern-day North American record of 19 consecutive wins held by Zenyatta and Peppers Pride. Rapid Redux, a 5-year-old Pleasantly Perfect gelding, has won all 18 of his 2011 races, one short of the seasonal record held by Citation.

Racing over a muddy, sealed racing strip, Rapid Redux hardly seemed to turn a hair. He was led into a crowded Mountaineer winner’s circle where owner Robert Cole, who claimed Rapid Redux for just $6,250 on Oct. 13, 2010, and David Wells, the Penn National-based trainer who has guided him through the streak, were waiting. A quick picture, a cheer, and Rapid Redux, who returned $2.20 to both win and place (show betting was cancelled) was led away, back to the barn area, while Mountaineer, with no one on hand to conduct interviews with the winning connections, moved briskly on to its nightcap.

There was little drama to the race itself. Three of the eight entered horses were scratched earlier in the day, and a fourth, Spiritwood, was scratched with one minute to post time. Rapid Redux was going to be difficult to beat with the seven lined up; now, he seemed like a mortal lock. But that’s the mainly the way things have gone during Rapid Redux’s streak. He’s been an odds-on favorite in his last 14 starts – all but one a $5,000 starter-allowance – and has faced an average of only 4.5 opponents during his streak.

And if Zenyatta was sometimes criticized for running up her streak against short fields of overmatched foes, Rapid Redux’s connections clearly have gone out of the way to keep their horse’s win skein alive. Yet the horse has managed to perform, race after race, for the last year now, rarely running below his typical form. Only two horses have come within a length of Rapid Redux during his streak – and for now, he stands alone, too, in the record books.