There are 11 races for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses worth an expected $2 million on the New Mexico-bred program. They include seven Thoroughbred contests carrying total purses of $1.08 million. Five of the Thoroughbred races have full fields of 12 going.
Joe Allen's homebred Peppers Pride puts her 12-race streak on the line in the $170,000 Championship Fillies and Mares, a six-furlong sprint in which 12 are entered. She is chasing the modern-day record of 16 wins to begin a career held jointly by Mister Frisky and Hallowed Dreams. Peppers Pride has enjoyed her success racing entirely against state breds.
Trained by Joel Marr, the 4-year-old daughter of Desert God-Lady Pepper (by Chilli Pepper Pie) has won at each of the previous New Mexico Cup events, taking the Juvenile Filly race in 2005 and the Filly Championship last year. The dark bay scored a dominating seven-length win of a Zia Park allowance race Oct. 22 in preparation for this. A lifetime earner of $572,465, she is 4-for-4 at the Hobbs track.
The millionaire Rocky Gulch won the first two New Mexico Cup Championship Classic editions for owner/breeder Larry R. Teague. This time around trainer Terry Walker has the 6-year-old gelding running in the $170,000 Championship Sprint, the closing race on the program. Rocky Gulch has had just one start in seven months, that coming in a six-furlong allowance race Oct. 23 in which the son of Dry Gulch finished second.
Rocky Gulch's last victory came in the New Mexico State University Handicap at Sunland Park in March. He went to the sidelines after finishing fourth in the Mt. Cristo Handicap at Sunland on April 8. The veteran has won 18 of 36 lifetime races and earned $1,110,928.
The horse that beat Rocky Gulch last time, Romeos Wilson, is entered in the one-mile Classic Championship, which is worth $180,000. The Classic drew a field of nine.
Southern California-based Jockey Patrick Valenzuela has seven mounts on the New Mexico Cup card, and his best shot could be with Tanya's Beau, the morning line choice in the Classic. Joseph Milchen's homebred has won his last three starts, all at Albuquerque. The 5-year-old Adam's Trail gelding most recently captured the one-mile University of New Mexico Handicap by nearly two lengths for trainer Jon Arnett.
Stan Fulton's Some Ghost comes into the Classic off an allowance win at Zia Oct. 27 for trainer Jess Alley. The Henry Dominguez-trained El Minuto, who defeated Some Ghost by two lengths earlier this year, also should get action.
Another Southern California-based rider, Joe Talamo, will also be busy with six mounts. He will guide Silver Expression in the $140,000 Championship Fillies for 3-year-olds for trainer Dick Cappellucci. Silver Expression will once again meet Shezapirate, who was disqualified from first-place purse money after posting a 1 3/4-length win in an Albuquerque stakes race Aug. 19. Neither filly has raced since.
In the $140,000 Juvenile, Mary Bowden's homebred Run Like Fire, a five-length winner in an overnight handicap at Ruidoso Downs in September, continues to improve for trainer Michael Welch and could be the one to beat in a field of 12. A colt by Premeditation, Run Like Fire tries to turn the tables on Thats Our Fred, who won the $200,000 Copper Top Futurity at Sunland in April.
Jack Reamy's Citi Girlfriend, who defeated open company in Zia's Permian Basin Stakes Oct. 21 in front-running style, looks like the one to beat in the $140,000 Juvenile Fillies event.
$180,000 New Mexico Cup Classic Championship Stakes (Race 10, 4:09 p.m.), New Mexico Breds 3 & Up, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, ML Odds
1. El Minuto, Ken S. Tohill, 4/1
2. Some Ghost, Casey T. Lambert, 9/2
3. Romeos Wilson, Alfredo J. Juarez, Jr., 7/2
4. Tanya's Beau, Patrick A. Valenzuela, 5/2
5. Dear Bull, Salvador Martinez, 12/1
6. Fullofenergy, Carlos D. Madeira, 8/1
7. Spelling Bee Jones, Mark Anthony Villa, 10/1
8. Matchstick Man, Duane Sterling, 15/1
9. Ninety Nine Jack, Joe A. Martinez, 12/1
Each assigned 123 pounds.