Because the real horse of the year, the one who most deserves it, the one who plugs holes on the leaky room circuit, the one who just wins, baby, won’t win it. I’ve already written about him. He’s won 19 races in a row and by the time the four of you read this he may win 20 in a row.
Since when has a dude in the company of two hot chicks opted to fly solo? That’s right— Rapid Redux. The other two horses he shares the record with are Zenyatta and Pepper’s Pride.
He has run 17 times this year and done it in style ... because he won them all. There’s no Grade 1 money there and he’d be outclassed by many of the above horses, but what’s keeping him off the ballot? Why can’t this guy and his gregarious owner Robert Cole, Jr. take home the coveted Eclipse for Horse of the Year? It wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to the Blue Bloods—Mine That Bird already rained on that parade. Didn’t the late Steve McNair get on the Heisman ballot as a Div. I-AA quarterback?
I Googled that 1994 Heisman ballot and came across a story by New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden (who, get this, occasionally makes an appearance in racetrack press boxes. I swear I’ve seen him.). Rhoden wrote on November 14, 1994, “I tuned into WFAN during a recent drive from State College, Pa., and was intrigued by an intense debate over the issue of awarding the Heisman Trophy. The host, Bill Daughtry, who can be counted on for a thought-provoking show, said that among college quarterbacks Steve McNair of Alcorn State was the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. Hands down.
“You'd have thought he called for the dissolution of the union.
Daughtry's premise -- which is supported by the inscription on the trophy -- is that the award should go to the most outstanding football player in the United States for a given year. Not the most outstanding player in Division I-A or I-AA, or II or III. The most outstanding player. Period.”
Rapid Redux certainly meets the most important criteria for award consideration: he’s a horse—and what a year’s he’s had.
He’s 17-for-17. He’s won races at Laurel Park, Charles Town, Parx, Penn National, Timonium, and Mountaineer. He’s gone short (a 5-furlong win on February 11). He’s gone long (a 9-furlong spanking on October 14).
This son of Pleasantly Perfect must be dog-tired. Then again, maybe not. Horses at this level—get this—race! They gallop around a ring or they jog in a machine. They don’t breeze every Monday because they’re too busy racing and putting on a show. They run more than my nose. They don’t run five times a year; they run five times from January 12 to March 3. Rapid Redux’s last published workout prior to tying Pepper’s Pride and Zenyatta? January 8th — four days before he began this miraculous run at immortality. Before that? September 22, 2010. That’s two breezes in 49 and change in 14 months. How’s that for a sharpener?
Human runners often get their speed workouts during races. Same can be said for Rapid Redux. He races into shape and stays there. He wears down all those around him.
But one of those above “elite” horses will win Horse of the Year because of their regal blood lines (uh, what’s this Pleasantly Perfect top side on RR????), their superior competition (those three-year-old colts who couldn’t string together consecutive Grade 1s), and all that prize money (seems like Cole only paid $6,250 for RR and won over $230,000) will, no doubt, leave Rapid Redux off the ballot.
Think his trainer, David J. Wells, who handled this unbelievable win streak, has a shot a Champion Trainer?
He fits the bill. He’s a trainer. The mountain of his and his horse’s accomplishments will, ironically, get in the way.
Brendan O'Meara is the author of "Six Weeks in Saratoga." Follow him on Twitter. Like Six Weeks on Facebook.