Robert Cole Jr. is no stranger to the winner's circle. From 2000 through Aug. 1, the Maryland-based owner had won 1,449 races, which is good for a 33.8% strike rate from 4,280 starts. His horses have earned $24.6 million over almost 20 years.
So far in 2019, Cole has 28 wins—along with 15 seconds and six thirds—from 61 starts. That's a win rate of 45.9% and a top-three rate of 80.3%.
But what occurred from May 24 through July 14 this year is rather remarkable and it is believed to be a Thoroughbred racing record in the absence of an official number. During that period every horse Cole started won, for a total of 12 consecutive victories as an owner.
And all of the horses were trained by Kevin Patterson, who won 16 straight races, which has been confirmed as an industry record. Patterson this year has 36 wins from 84 starts, and for his career has won 432 races for earnings of $5.78 million.
All of the wins during the two streaks came in West Virginia at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort.
The owner and trainer will again be represented on West Virginia Derby Day, Aug. 3, in two sprint stakes with horses they recently claimed for a combined $97,500.
“I couldn't find anything about (the record for consecutive wins by an owner), but I would have to think it is the record,” Cole said. “I've won seven races in one day at three tracks, and in 2008 led the nation in wins in 2008, but I couldn't find anything about this.”
A search produced no official statistics or news articles regarding such a record, and Equibase said it currently doesn't have a mechanism to capture start over-start data to provide such statistics.
Cole owned Rapid Redux, a starter allowance horse who set the North American record for consecutive wins when he won his 20th straight race in October 2011 at Mountaineer. The gelding ended up winning 22 straight races and was then retired to Old Friends in Kentucky in 2012.
As for records of a consecutive nature, Cole said even with trainers who win 30% of their starts, winning 16 straight has about “four billionths of a chance of happening. I don't know if it's any harder for an owner, but still, the mathematics are impossible. Rapid Redux won 22 straight races, but with a trainer or owner you may be talking about five, six, or seven different horses. It's a crazy thing.”
Cole won the 12 races with eight different horses. Since the streak ended, Cole-owned horses have won four of five starts with one third-place finish.
Cole won the West Virginia Legislature Chairman's Cup, a 4 ½-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds and up on Derby Day, the last three years and five times overall. With that race and the six-furlong Sen. Robert Byrd Memorial Stakes also at Mountaineer, and a future stakes engagement at the Maryland State Fair at Timonium, Cole was on the lookout for sprinters, so he purchased two recently through the claim box at Churchill Downs and Parx Racing in Pennsylvania.
Cole claimed the 5-year-old Twirling Candy gelding Fort Fortitude, a winner of $206,314, for $62,500 at Churchill June 13. He is entered in $75,000 Chairman's Cup and is listed at 3-5 on the morning line in an eight-horse field.
On June 11 at Parx, Cole claimed the 4-year-old Field Commission colt Sparticle for $35,000 out of an allowance/optional claiming race he won by seven lengths and entered him in the $75,000 Byrd Memorial. He is the 5-1 fourth choice on the morning line.
Both horses will race for the first time for the connections and make their Mountaineer debuts.
“We wanted to claim a horse for the (Chairman's Cup),” Cole said. “I'd like to win it four years in a row. (Fort Fortitude) has speed but also versatility, so we were thinking about the stakes at Mountaineer and then the one at Timonium. He worked like a million-dollar horse (July 17 at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races).”
Sparticle has worked twice at Charles Town in slower time, but Cole noted the colt earned a very high speed figure for his recent victory at Parx. His last two wins have come on the front-end.
“I look for these types of horses,” Cole said. “It's not an accident. It is partial luck and partial skill. (Sparticle) is a gorgeous horse with signs of upside potential; sometimes horses are late-bloomers. I don't know which horse is better, or what we're getting Saturday, but both horses are being sent to the lead.
“I figure one race is tough and one is not so tough. Right now, everything is setting up perfectly.”
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