The southern New Mexico track announced that the race Peppers Pride entered -- the $55,000 Lincoln Handicap for fillies and mares at six furlongs -- will not be made up Aug. 2 as originally hoped. Track spokesman Ty Wyant said the Lincoln, as well as the other Thoroughbred races that were on the $1 million Zia Festival program, would be rescheduled later in August, depending on how conditions improve.
"We just want to give her as good a chance as possible at breaking the record," he said. The current meet runs through Labor Day.
Wyant said trucks are hauling fresh soil from the El Paso area to patch the flood-ravaged track.
Ruidoso Downs is set to reopen for training Aug. 1 and expects to race the following day. However after meeting with horsemen, track officials decided to only race on the Quarter Horse track, a 550-yard straight that is outside of the main racing surface, on the first day back. On Aug. 3, there will be a limited number of Thoroughbred races, Wyant said.
Peppers Pride needs one victory to break the win-streak record of 16 consecutive races held jointly by Citation, Mister Frisky, Cigar and Hallowed Dreams. The 5-year-old mare continues to wait it out at trainer Joel Marr's barn at Ruidoso Downs, where she has been stabled for more than two months.
Marr said his charge will need some additional training time in order to be ready to run. He said that deciding her next race depended on that factor. The $50,000 Carlos Salazar at 6 1/2 furlongs at the Downs at Albuquerque on Aug. 17 has been mentioned as a likely option for Peppers Pride's next start, though Marr indicated he would prefer to stay at Ruidoso.
"I've got to get her back training," he said. "If we go past Friday (without taking the track), I'll move her somewhere to train."
Owned by her breeder, Joe Allen, Peppers Pride has not raced since tying the record April 26 in the Foutz Distaff Handicap at SunRay Park. A lifetime earner of $861,665, she has never raced outside New Mexico and each of her victories has come against female New Mexico-bred competition, including 12 stakes wins.
The storm, part of the remnants of Hurricane Dolly coming up from Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, dumped some seven inches of rain on the area, causing considerable damage to the racing surface and the jockey quarters. The Zia Festival, a program for New Mexico breds that was to include the Lincoln, was canceled July 27. Racing also has been canceled on July 31 and Aug. 1.
“The track maintenance crew did an absolutely amazing job getting the track so we can resume racing,” said Ann McGovern, Ruidoso Downs president and general manager, in a statement. Track superintendent Terry Brown, along with track consultant Dennis Moore, have led the restoration project.
In Ruidoso, one person was killed after the Rio Ruidoso jumped its banks, about 600 people were rescued and about 500 homes and other structures were damaged, the Associated Press reported. The county was declared a disaster area by Governor Bill Richardson on July 28. Early damage estimates in Ruidoso range from $15 million to $20 million.
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