12/21/2006 12:00AM

All eyes on Peppers Pride


Peppers Pride has dominated the New Mexico-bred filly ranks since she began her career in July 2005, winning all six of her starts, including four stakes. She figures to be the overwhelming favorite in Saturday's $125,000 La Coneja Handicap at Sunland Park, a 5 1/2-furlong race for New Mexico-bred 3-year-old fillies that has lured a full field of 12.

Trained by Joel Marr, Peppers Pride has won her starts at three of New Mexico's tracks: She won her first two starts at Ruidoso in July 2005, then won at Zia in November, resurfaced here in January to win a stakes, and then, after a nine-month break, reappeared at Zia to win two more in October and November. Many of her foes Saturday have eaten her dust before, and may well do so again. Carlos Madeira rides Peppers Pride, the 123-pound highweight.

Peppers Pride faces the one filly who has given her a scare: Theregoesdancer, who fell just a nose short of Peppers Pride in an allowance race at Zia on Oct. 17. That start was Peppers Pride's first in nine months and Theregoesdancer's first in nearly three months. The two hooked up again in the New Mexico Cup Filly at Zia on Nov. 12, when Peppers Pride stalked the pace, took over into the lane, and had enough to fend off the hard-charging Theregoesdancer by a length. Theregoesdancer has more tactical speed than that and figures to show it here. Travis Cunningham rides at 121 pounds.

Sienna Chimes is an interesting longshot. Trained by Henry Dominguez, she faltered to fourth in the New Mexico Cup Filly after dueling for the lead, but has plenty of speed and is working well. She won her only start at Sunland, in December 2005. She's drawn on the outside, and rider Ricardo Jaime can either go on with it or he can stalk if someone like Flying Dome or Oh I Know sets the pace instead.