Undefeated Peppers Pride, the record-breaking New Mexico mare who goes for her 18th straight win in the $170,000 New Mexico Cup Fillies & Mares Championship at Zia Park Nov. 9, is expected to race once more this year, according to her trainer.
"I hope not," responded trainer Joel Marr when asked whether the Zia race would be her last. "There's a race at Sunland Park in December. Hopefully, as long as everything goes OK, she'll run there."
Marr was referring to the $125,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap Dec. 14.
There remains a possibility that the 5-year-old Peppers Pride, who is owned by her breeder Joe Allen, could return to the track in 2009, he added.
"We haven't decided for sure whether to breed her," Marr said. "We're looking into some different breeding possibilities for her, both in Kentucky and here at home."
Due to poor track conditions at Ruidoso Downs this summer, Peppers Pride had not raced for more than five months when she defeated an optional claiming allowance field going six furlongs at Zia Oct. 4 for her 17th straight win. That 1 3/4-length victory broke the modern-day mark for consecutive wins by a North American-raced Thoroughbred that she had held jointly with all-time greats Citation and Cigar, and two others, Mister Frisky and Hallowed Dreams.
Right now, Marr is more concerned with the Nov. 9 card, hoping Peppers Pride can help him snap out of a slump during the Zia meet. A 20% winner on the New Mexico circuit, he has won with four of 36 starters at the Hobbs track heading into the weekend.
"We haven't had a great meet so far, but we've got six going Sunday. We had a good summer, but we've hit a dry spell here," he said.
Peppers Pride's best distance is a mile, Marr beleves, which is how far she will travel in the New Mexico Cup while facing seven other rivals. The dark bay daughter of Desert God, six-for-six at Zia, has not gone that far since winning a stakes at Sunland in March. She drew post seven and will tote 123 pounds under weight-for-age conditions.
"The post is good, maybe a little wider than I would have liked," Marr said, noting the short run into the first turn. "But it is much better than the one (post)."
Carlos Medeira, Peppers Pride's rider in all of her races so far, will be aboard. A victory would push Peppers Pride close to $1 million in career earnings. She currently stands at $884,585.
Peppers Pride, 4-5 on the morning line, has two main rivals, it would appear—Let the Musicbegin and Silver Expression. Let the Musicbegin is coming off a one-length victory over an open group of fillies and mares in Zia's one-mile Chaves County Stakes Oct. 5, a race contested on a sloppy track. The stakes-winning Silver Expression, who starts on the far outside, ran second to Peppers Pride in the record-setting race and tries the one-mile distance for the first time.
Peppers Pride's race, the 10th on the card, highlights a great day of New Mexico racing at the Hobbs track. There are 11 races on the program, including four for Quarter Horses, worth $1.85 million, making it the richest day for state-breds at any track.
In the $180,000 New Mexico Cup Classic at one mile, Some Ghost is the 2-1 morning line favorite. Trained by Jess Alley for owner Stan Fulton, Some Ghost is looking for his fourth win in five starts this year. The 7-year-old gelding, a 13-time winner in a 35-race career, faces eight rivals, including recent Zia winner Ky's Quest.
The New Mexico Cup Classic precedes Peppers Pride's race.
$180,000 New Mexico Cup Classic Stakes (Race 9, 3:43 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Slewjoe (NM), Luis Medina, 123, 20/1
2. C. G's Dollar (NM), Miguel A. Perez, 123, 15/1
3. Ky's Quest (NM), Alfredo J. Juarez, Jr., 123, 3/1
4. Shinny Season (NM), Salvador Martinez, 120, 12/1
5. Move Moves (NM), Duane Lee Sterling, 120. 10/1
6. Fullofenergy (NM), Carlos D. Madeira, 123, 8/1
7. Some Ghost (NM), Casey T. Lambert, 123, 2/1
8. Chrome Boy (NM), Mark Anthony Villa, 123, 5/1
9. Midnite Prospector (NM), Ken S. Tohill, 123, 9/2
$170,000 New Mexico Cup Fillies and Mares Stakes (Race 10, 4:09 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. La Sorpresa (NM), Mark Anthony Villa, 120, 12/1
2. Miss Possibility (NM), Alejandro Medellin, 123, 10/1
3. Let the Musicbegin (NM), Jorge Martin Bourdieu, 123, 3/1
4. Betsy N (NM), Carlos Rivas, 123, 30/1
5. Complete Pride (NM), Ken S. Tohill, 123, 8/1
6. Look Buca Di Beppo (NM), Joe A. Martinez, 123, 20/1
7. Peppers Pride (NM), Carlos D. Madeira, 123, 4/5
8. Silver Expression (NM), Miguel A. Perez, 123, 5/1