Peppers Pride, the queen of New Mexico racing, is pursuing the modern day record of 16 straight victories held jointly by Citation, Cigar, Hallowed Dreams and Mister Frisky.
All 14 of Peppers Pride's wins have come against state breds. She was sent off at odds 1-10 in the six-horse field.
Winning trainer Joel Marr said in the winner’s circle, “There was a lot of pressure on us for the past two weeks. I feel like a big weight has been moved off my shoulders, but we don’t get to relax for very long.”
Peppers Pride may next be pointed to the $100,000 Sydney Valentini Handicap on March 23. She won the one-mile event a year ago.
With regular rider Carlos Madeira aboard, the 4-year-old Desert God filly gradually wore down pacesetter Hollywood Gone mid-stretch and drew away late. Peppers Pride, now 5-for-5 at Sunland, spotted her rivals between nine and 14 pounds. The winning six-furlong time was 1:10.24.
Marr trains the dark bay filly for breeder and owner Joe Allen. She was coming off a two-length win in the New Mexico Cup Filly & Mare Stakes Nov. 11 at Zia Park. Peppers Pride is out of the Chili Pepper Pie mare Lady Pepper.
Peppers Pride got away cleanly from post five for Madeira and stalked in third while racing off the rail down the backstretch. Hollywood Gone, pressed by Complete Pride, set fractions of :22 3/5 and :46 1/5 on the dirt track. Complete Pride began to give away as Peppers Pride was urged to challenge three wide rounding the turn. Madeira had to ask Peppers Pride, who was drifting out under left-handed encouragement, for more through the lane. But she responded well to take command over the stubborn Hollywood Gone leaving the sixteenth marker.
The victory, worth $75,000, increased Peppers Pride's earnings to $756,665.
She paid $2.20, $2.10 and 2.10. Hollywood Gone returned $4 and $2.80. Hang Glide finished four lengths farther back, paying $2.10.
Romeos Wilson defended his title in the $125,000 Johnie L. Jamison Stakes with a sterling effort in the 6 1/2-furlong co-feature for New Mexico breds. The 9-year-old veteran gelding propelled through the stretch with an energetic move to pull clear of Some Ghost by one length at the wire.