Citation, in his Triple Crown-winning campaign of 1948, won 19 of 20 starts to set the record for the most wins in a calendar year. Rapid Redux sits at 18-for-18 in 2011.
The argument against Rapid Redux in any conversation has been his “minor league” credentials, that his penchant for winning has come against inferior competition. But the elite horses’ penchant for mediocrity seems no more deserving of praise than Rapid Redux. I’ll take an A+ minor leaguer over a C- elite horse, especially in 2011.
No one’s comparing Rapid Redux to Citation, that’s like comparing Jackie Moon to Dr. J. Still, the two names share the sentence.
This past year of racing was about as exciting as watching a poker tournament at the local Moose Lodge. Just look at the list of top moments provided by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association:
Game on Dude and Chantal Sutherland survive 10 furlongs and a 12-minute stewards’ inquiry in capturing the Santa Anita Handicap.
Rosie Napravnik guides Pants on Fire to victory in the Louisiana Derby en route to becoming the first woman to win a Fair Grounds riding title.
Uncle Mo suffers his first defeat, running third behind Toby’s Corner in Aqueduct’s Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial.
Animal Kingdom runs down his foes in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands.
Shackleford overcomes pre-race nervousness to hold off Animal Kingdom in the Preakness.
Blind Luck prevails by a nose over Havre de Grace following a stretch-long duel in the Delaware Handicap.
Caleb’s Posse catches a stubborn Uncle Mo in the Foxwoods King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga.
Havre de Grace beats the boys in Saratoga’s Woodward Stakes.
Joseph O’Brien, 18, becomes the youngest jockey to win a Breeders’ Cup race, piloting St. Nicholas Abbey to victory in the Emirates Airline Turf for his father, Aidan O’Brien.
Court Vision spoils Goldikova’s attempt at a fourth consecutive TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile win, upsetting the field at 64-1
Drosselmeyer and Mike Smith edge Game on Dude and Chantal Sutherland at the wire of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, giving trainer Bill Mott his second “Classic” in 24 hours.
Rapid Redux breaks a North American record by winning his 20th consecutive race. (for your very own Pricci’s take on these choices, click here).
Yeah. That’s 2011. Turn the safety back on and put the firearm away and consider your options. Twenty eleven will have a hard time applying for jobs with that resume. In fact, 2011 will have a hard time finding part-time work at Gertrude Hawks for the holidays. I hear Bed, Bath, and Beyond is hiring.
The most iconic moments of the big league horses included the females: the Del Cap, the Woodward, and Chantal’s Big Cap. Two of the three involve Havre de Grace, the likely winner of Horse of the Year.
It’ll mark a third consecutive year where a filly or mare will win Horse of the Year (and Royal Delta will win it next year. You can put it on the boarrrrrrd ... ) but I still put my imaginary vote on Rapid Redux, because until the rules specifically exclude horses of his “caliber” he’s every bit as eligible.
“We are going straight to the lead,” added Cole. “He is as fit as he’s ever been and we think he’ll carry the speed without a problem.”
And by 2:57, we’ll know just how much Citation and Rapid Redux have in common, even if it is just a win streak that bridges the start of the Baby Boom to the iPhone 4S.
Brendan O'Meara is the author of "Six Weeks in Saratoga."