12/21/2004 12:00AM

Cajun Pepper to Riley Allison


Trainer Ramon Gonzalez said he hopes to run Cajun Pepper in the $500,000 WinStar Derby on April 2, and the first big push toward that goal will come this weekend. Cajun Pepper, who is undefeated, will attempt to win his fifth straight race in the $161,324 at Sunland Park on Sunday.

"I think he's kind of a special colt," said Gonzalez, who is a six-time title winner at Sunland.

Cajun Pepper has won his first four races by a combined 22 1/2 lengths, with his richest score coming in the $33,000 Colorado Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Futurity at Arapahoe Park on Aug. 8. The runner-up from that race, Run Do Run, returned to win a stakes at Arapahoe in his next start.

Cajun Pepper, meanwhile, was given a freshening after the race and returned to action Dec. 10 and won his trial for the Riley Allison by 7 1/2 lengths over stakes winner Railroad. He covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.20 and will be difficult to handle if he repeats that performance Sunday.

"He's doing things so easy," said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said he believes Cajun Pepper's pedigree will make him effective at longer distances, with the $100,000 Borderland Derby at 1 1/16 miles at Sunland on Feb. 27 an upcoming route option. Cajun Pepper is by the Riverman stallion Barricade, who was a winner on turf in North America and France.

Cajun Pepper is a Colorado-bred and could be the second straight champion from the state trained by Gonzalez. Last year he trained This Cat's for You, who was the top Colorado-bred in 2003.

The Riley Allison will share a card with the $400,000 Championship, a Grade 1 for Quarter Horses.

Big comebacks at Sunland

Jockey Glen Murphy, who had not ridden since October 2003, when he fractured the tibia and fibula in his right leg in a race at Hawthorne, made his first start back a winning one. He captured the 11th race at Sunland Sunday with Ghostwriter ($7.40).

Indian Express ($3.80) also made a successful comeback Sunday, winning in his first start since finishing 14th in the 2003 Kentucky Derby. Indian Express, who was second in the 2003 Santa Anita Derby, won the 6 1/2-furlong allowance for trainer Dennis Hall.

* Victory Woman ($5.20) won her maiden by 22 lengths Friday night at Sam Houston. She won for a claiming price of $10,000 for trainer Danny Pish.