Updated on 12/17/2011 12:11PM

Rapid Redux wins 19th race of the year to equal Citation's record

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Rapid Redux won his first race of 2011 at Laurel Park on Jan. 12 and won his 19th race of 2011 there Tuesday, capturing the sixth race by a half-length to push his remarkable winning streak to 21.

The victory equaled a modern U.S. record for wins in one year set by Citation, who won 19 of 20 starts in 1948. In Rapid Redux’s previous start, on Nov. 21 at Mountaineer Park, he set the modern U.S. record for consecutive wins at 20, surpassing the mark shared by Zenyatta and Peppers Pride. A Puerto Rican horse, Camarero, won 29 races without a loss in 1955.

Owner Robert Cole said an hour before Tuesday’s race that he was “prepared for a loss,” suggesting Rapid Redux might not be at his best. Cole’s concern was unfounded, though Rapid Redux, setting the pace under J.D. Acosta, saw a three-length stretch-call lead diminish to a half-length at the finish. Acosta had begun hand-riding Rapid Redux after establishing his big stretch lead, and he dropped his whip just before the wire after going back to the stick as Awesome Rhythm began eating into Rapid Redux’s margin.

“It will never happen again in my life, and another horse probably won’t ever do it,” Cole said of Rapid Redux’s streak. “I just feel lucky and blessed.”

Rapid Redux ($2.60) went straight to the lead under Acosta, setting quarter-mile splits of 24.36 seconds, 48.13, 1:13.05, and 1:38.26 on the way to a final time of 1:45.08 for 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track. Awesome Rhythm finished more than five lengths in front of the second betting choice, No Brakes, who was third.

Cole claimed Rapid Redux, a 5-year-old Pleasantly Perfect gelding, for $6,250 on Oct.  13, 2010, at Penn National. Rapid Redux won that day and won his first start for Cole but finished eighth in his next race or his streak would now stand at 24. It seems certain that Rapid Redux will seek to top Citation’s single-season mark before year’s end, but Cole did not name a specific target.

[RELATED: Watch more of Rapid Redux's past replays and read details of the streak]

Earlier in the day, Cole responded to a report published online Monday by the Paulick Report that called into question the circumstances surrounding Rapid Redux’s 16th win of 2011, on Oct. 14 at Charles Town. Charles Town stewards conducted an investigation into the scratches of two horses, Disco Indy and Valid Venture, in Rapid Redux’s race. Both horses won their next starts. They were to have started against Rapid Redux as a coupled entry for trainer Scooter Davis, who told Charles Town stewards that the horses could not race because a van transporting them to the track had broken down, according to the Paulick Report.

Both Cole and trainer David Wells said Tuesday they were never contacted by the stewards about an investigation, which did not produce any action, according to one racing official. Chief steward Danny Wright did not answer several phone calls Tuesday.

“I knew one horse was going to be scratched early,” Wells said. “I heard he was put in to make the race go for the other horse. I didn’t know the other horse was scratched until I got there that night.”

Cole had not employed Davis before the Oct.  14 race but has since given him two horses to train, Cole confirmed.

“I choose the best trainer at each track, and he’s the best one at West Virginia,” Cole said. “I’ve never spent time talking to him until the time leading up to that, but I read the Racing Form every day, and he’s a fantastic trainer.”

Davis, 40, did not answer phone calls Tuesday. He has 13 racing violations in 2011, the most serious of which revolved around the administration of Lasix. The Presque Isle stewards determined Davis had “orchestrated a scheme of deception with the purpose of seeking Lasix treatment outside the acceptable administration protocol.” He was fined $1,000 and suspended 15 days.

Cole pointed out that horses had regularly been scratched from races that included Rapid Redux.

“I’m a little baffled why this popped up two months after the fact,” he said. “The horse is tough to beat. We had six scratches out of nine competitors his last start at Mountaineer. When you draw in and see Rapid Redux in the entries, you’re less likely to run.”