Ridden confidently by regular pilot Carlos Madeira, the 5-year-old Peppers Pride angled three wide on the final turn of the one-mile test for New Mexico-bred fillies and mares. She wore down her rivals nearing the eighth pole, coming home under a strong hand ride to win by a diminishing 1 1/4 lengths over Theregoesdancer. Peppers Pride, now 3-for-3 at eight furlongs, won the Valentini last year as well.
With the win, the undisputed queen of New Mexico racing has moved to within one of the Thoroughbred record of 16 consecutive triumphs held jointly by 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation, Cigar, Mister Frisky and Hallowed Dreams.
Owned and bred by Joseph Allen of Abilene, Texas, Peppers Pride is trained by Joel Marr.
Heavily favored at odds of 1-2 in a field of seven, Peppers Pride carried high weight of 125 pounds.
She settled in third early on in the two-turn event as Complete Pride, also owned and bred by Allen, ensured a strong early pace, :21.66 for the opening quarter-mile, before she slowed things up on the backstretch. Peppers Pride tracked fractions of :48.01 for a half-mile and 1:12.44 for three-quarters while about three lengths behind the leaders Complete Pride and Wild Gini.
Rounding the turn, Madeira asked for a tad more from the daughter of Desert God and she responded by challenging for the lead at the top of the lane while racing slightly wide. She had no serious threat through the lane after disposing of the leaders. Theregoes Dancer, ridden by Glen Murphy, ran on late and was cutting into the lead when the wire came. Wild Gini, with Nancy Summers aboard, took third. The final time was 1:38.13 on a fast track.
Peppers Pride, out of the Chilli Pepper Pie mare Lady Pepper, earned $60,000 on Sunday to push her lifetime earnings to $816,665 in a perfect 15-race career.
The winner paid $3, $2.10 and $2.10. Theregoesdancer, who has run second to Peppers Pride at least six times in her career, returned $4 and $3. She finished nearly three lengths in front of Wild Gini, $4 to show.
Let the Musicbegin, Complete Pride, Good Looker R F and She’s Long Gone rounded out the order.