After six months off to recover from the wear and tear of a North American record 22 straight victories, Rapid Redux will be retired next week to Kentucky Horse Park, his owner Robert Cole and trainer David Wells said.
"He's perfect right now and we want him to stay that way," said Cole, a Towson native. "Why risk having him get beat."
Located outside of Lexington, Kentucky Horse Park is home to many famous horses, including Cigar, Da Horse and Funny Cide. John Henry, who was a resident, is buried there.
Rapid Redux was claimed by Cole at Penn National for $6,250 on Oct.13, 2010. He went 19-for-19 in 2011, tying Citation's national record for wins in a season. His 22 straight wins broke the North American record of 19 previously held by 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta and New Mexico-bred Pepper's Pride.
Rapid Redux earned those victories at seven tracks and at distances ranging from five furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, under the guidance of seven riders
Among his awards are an Eclipse Special Award and the Secretariat Vox Populi Award that recognizes a horse who distinguishes himself in the eyes of the public.
Thursday, Rapid Redux's team also received a Special Award of Merit at the Alibi Breakfast at Pimlico Race Course.
"I've been very careful with him over his time off," Wells said. "I didn't want to let him out in a big field where he might hurt himself, so I've been taking him out, hand walking him, to eat grass. He's fine, but he ran hard and he's not quite the same horse, to be honest. He gave us a really fun ride, and I'm glad he's healthy and we're letting him go out on top."
Bonita, Country Life strengthening
One of the signs slots revenue is having a positive impact on Maryland's horse racing industry can be seen at two of the state's long-time breeding farms — Bonita Farm and Country Life Farm.
Each farm reports it is standing a new stallion this breeding season.
At Country Life, Friesan Fire, the winner of the 2009 Louisiana Derby and the betting favorite in that year's Kentucky Derby, is the first new sire since 2006.
"I think it is a sign that the industry is recovering," said Mike Pons, owner of the Country Life Farm, where the legendary Cigar was born. "The breeding industry is kind of the last part to come out [of a down-turn]. In Maryland we bottomed out in foals last year or this year. But judging by my stallion, in talking to [Bonita Farm breeding department manager] Billy [Boniface] and the folks at Northview [Stallion Station], I think we're going to see our numbers increasing."
Etched, a 6-year-old son of Forestry who sired Shackleford, last year's Preakness winner, is in his first breeding season at Bonita and is the first new stallion at the farm in nearly eight years. Bonita is where 1983 Preakness winner Deputed Testamony was bred, trained and continues to reside.
"[Etched has] won over $500,000 and is the winner of two Grade II races and one Grade III," Boniface said. "We're telling people the incentive programs in Maryland are going up and the crop has been down, so this is a good time to get involved."
Pons said another sign that the sport is starting to see an upswing is the excitement he is seeing among others involved in the sport.
"A number of racing folks I'm bumping into are saying this is going to be one of the best Preaknesses we've had in years," he said. "More people are talking about it, more tickets are being sold — I'm getting 45 in the grandstand and another seven in the infield.
"It's my own little survey. I usually have leftovers, but not this year. I could have probably used 60 tickets I've had so many inquiries. I think [I'll Have Anothertrainer] Doug O'Neill deserves some of the credit for bringing his horse here early, getting the horse on television and getting people interested."
New Archbishop looking for an alibi
William Lori, the new Archbishop of Baltimore, spent the morning of his first full day at work at the Alibi Breakfast at Pimlico on Thursday. Lori gave the invocation, but before he did, he made a confession.
"I was born in Louisville, but I never went to the Kentucky Derby," Lori said. "I'm going to be at the Preakness. I know Cardinals [William] Keeler and [Edwin] O'Brien told me the pressure is on to deliver pretty good weather. If I don't, I don't know what my alibi will be."