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A funny thing happened on the way to blog post “Of Snowshoes & Faceplants.” Who could have ever expected that it would get to be January 5, and there not be any snow in our part of Michigan? Actually, there’s so little snow all over Michigan that several planned events (including one mushing event) have had to be rescheduled. So, until we all get the snow we need, that post will have to wait.
I’m just as happy, though, as there’s something happening that is remarkable. That something is a horse called Rapid Redux!
Rapid Redux (RR) is a nicely-bred gelding who has just won his 22nd race – IN A ROW! For a horse to win 22 times in a lifetime is special enough, but to do it in a row, especially in today’s racing, is nothing short of miraculous. Even the superhorse, Zenyatta, didn’t accomplish this feat. Before anyone starts saying, “Yes, but…” let me state – unequivocally – that RR is no Zenyatta. And, when you really consider it, that may make his accomplishment even more astonishing.
You see, RR was claimed for $6250 in October of 2010. He has raced at seven different tracks and won at distances from five furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, mostly in starter allowance races for horses that had started for a claiming price of $5,000 or less. In other words, he’s “everyman’s horse.” He’s the kind of horse that the backbone of thoroughbred racing dreams of.
I can talk about this because, as most of you know, we were in the thoroughbred business for a number of years. We were the small, mom-and-pop breeders who bred to race. We didn’t (and still don’t) have the deep pockets required to breed to the top stallions in the world (although we DID – twice – but it was before anyone else knew the kind of sire Dynaformer would turn out to be). My passion was figuring out which new stallions, who stood for moderate prices, would turn out to be very successful and get some good runners. Stallions I “discovered” including Strawberry Road, Notebook, and Dynaformer. Big “D” was – by a LONG shot – my best sure-thing.
We were lucky enough to breed horses that, at least, won. None of them were stakes quality, but we did manage to get winners. Funny thing, though, the costs were far more than the winnings. That’s why RR has totally captivated me. Rapid Redux is a horse that runs in allowance company and just refuses to lose. A huge amount of credit should go to his owner and his trainer. His owner (Robert Coles, Jr.) should be congratulated for allowing his trainer to take the lead in which races RR should run in. The trainer (David Welles) has kept the horse happy and healthy and put him into the right races. That, in itself, is quite an accomplishment; but, to put the horse in spots where he can win 22 straight, that’s nothing short of genius.
The incomparable Zenyatta was blessed with owners and a trainer who realized how wonderful their mare was/is. They allowed and continue to allow amazing access to a horse whose style, beauty, and grit in the top ranks captivated the racing world (and millions who had never before – or since Secretariat – gotten involved with a racehorse). Zenyatta’s first foal is eagerly awaited by the public.
Similarly, the folks involved with the super-filly, Rachel Alexandra, realized the love people had developed for their horse. They, too, have kept the world informed on Rachel’s life. She, also, is expecting her first foal this year.
Rapid Redux is a blue-collar horse. He is the miracle that every small-time operation dreams of. I congratulate the Eclipse Award committee for recognizing that this horse has accomplished something astounding and voted to give him a Special Eclipse Award. (For those of you who don’t follow horse racing, the Eclipse Award is given to the very best performances in horse racing each year.) That a horse that runs in the ranks of the vast majority of races in the sport has realized such heights, may be one of the “shots in the arm” that horse racing needs. RR has captured the imaginations of so many – in racing and out. He’s the horse racing version of Rocky Balboa!
I recently read that RR’s owner was exploring locations for retirement for his grand horse. I think that’s incredibly wise. I know how hard it is to retire a horse when he’s winning. The costs associated with running a horse can quickly eat up any winnings. This should be the exception. Rapid Redux has accomplished something that, I firmly believe, will never again be approached. In addition, he will be getting the Special Eclipse Award. He’s earned his retirement.
For that retirement, I’d, personally, like to see RR go to Old Friends in Georgetown, Kentucky! Old Friends is the home of some of racing’s most spectacular former stars. Among their ranks are horses that were superior runners and stallions whose age or health has dictated that they should no longer go to the breeding shed. They also have many excellent geldings and older or infertile mares who have “earned” a quiet life where they are loved – not only by the staff, but by the large numbers of the public who visit every year. It has been said that Rapid Redux is a people-horse. If that’s so, it would be in everyone’s best interest for him to be retired to a facility where his fans are able to come to visit him. I can think of no place better for a horse of his stature than Old Friends. Michael Blowen and the whole staff take remarkable care of their horses. They get the love and respect they are due. Rapid Redux would flourish under their care.
No matter what is next for Rapid Redux, his accomplishment and the excitement he’s engendered have been a very bright spot for horse racing and its fans. I eagerly await news of what’s next for him. My wish is that he will be retired to some place where we fans can come visit him and thank him, in person, for bringing so much joy.