Ruidoso Downs, the New Mexico track where Peppers Pride is stabled awaiting the rescheduled $67,500 Lincoln Handicap Aug. 31, could face more wet weather, creating the potential for an off-track that would delay the 5-year-old mare's attempt at the record once again. Thunderstorms hit Ruidoso Aug. 28 with the possibility of more in the forecast through Aug. 31.
Peppers Pride, who has never run on an off-track, was originally scheduled to race for the record on July 27 in the Lincoln Handicap for New Mexico-bred fillies and mares. But the entire program was washed away by a flood that caused more than $15 million in damage to the Ruidoso area.
"I couldn't ask for her to be doing any better," said trainer Joel Marr Aug. 27. "Hopefully, we’ll be able to run."
Marr said the earlier cancellation "was kind of a letdown," adding that Peppers Pride is anxious to race.
The race is to be broadcast live by TVG as part of its Labor Day weekend racing coverage from Ruidoso. The network also features the $2 million All-American Futurity Sept. 1 and $1 million All-American Derby Aug. 31.
After winning the first 16 races of her career, Joe Allen's New Mexico-bred daughter of Desert God can break the record for consecutive victories she shares with Triple Crown winner Citation, two-time horse of the year Cigar, Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Mister Frisky and the Louisiana-bred sprinter Hallowed Dreams.
This would be Peppers Pride's first start since winning the Foutz Distaff Handicap for state-breds at SunRay Park April 26. Eight fillies and mares are entered in the six-furlong Lincoln, with Peppers Pride assigned top weight of 127. Carlos Madeira, who has been aboard for each of her races, retains the mount and they will to break from Post 2. Peppers Pride spots her rivals from 10 to 14 pounds in her record-breaking try.
A lifetime earner of $861,665, Peppers Pride has won all 16 races against New Mexico-breds, including 12 stakes victories.
The flood last month caused the Ruidoso Downs track to be closed for training for five days while maintenance workers replaced the lost soil.
“It affected us quite a bit. We lost training, but she has had two good works since then,” Marr said. Peppers Pride has been able to gallop over the track for 10 consecutive days. Her most recent published workout was Aug. 20 when she breezed five furlongs in 1:03.
"The track's been pretty good," Marr said.
Peppers Pride has won three races at Ruidoso Downs, Marr's home track — her first two career starts and last year’s Lincoln. If she is scratched in this race, New Mexico racing shifts to the Downs at Albuquerque for the state fair and to Zia Park in mid-September.
She'll be facing many of the same rivals that she has beaten in the past, although Marr said there is one new shooter in the field — multiple stakes winner Silver Expression, who will carry 117 pounds and will be ridden by Miguel Perez.
Silver Expression, who has been training for part-owner Dick Cappellucci at Ruidoso, has not been out since winning an allowance race at Sunland Park Jan. 8.
"She's a nice horse," Marr said. "I've been watching her."
Another challenger is Miss Possibility, who scored a 10-1 surprise for owner/trainer Henry Dominguez in the Carlos Salazar Stakes at Albuquerque Aug. 17, a race Marr had considered after the Lincoln was washed out.
$67,500 Lincoln Handicap (Race 10, 4:12 p.m. Mountain),
New Mexico-Bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Mega Dome, 113, Mark A. Villa
2. Peppers Pride, 127, Carlos D. Madeira
3. Miss Possibility, 116, Joe A. Martinez
4. Good Looker R F, 117, Alfredo J. Juarez, Jr.
5. Charlie's Pizzazz, 115, Alejandro Medellin
6. Silver Expression, 117, Miguel A. Perez
7. Complete Pride, 114, Jorge M. Bourdieu
8. Let the Musicbegin, 116, Ricardo Jaime