07/24/2008 11:00PM

Peppers Pride goes for the record


There are a thousand ways to lose a race. But trainer Joel Marr has never had to come up with one single excuse for Peppers Pride. She has been unbeatable since she won her career debut in a trial race at Ruidoso Downs in July 2005.

Sunday, the undefeated Peppers Pride returns to the New Mexico track to try and set a North American standard for consecutive wins by a Thoroughbred. Peppers Pride will attempt to win her 17th consecutive race in the $55,000 Lincoln Handicap.

If she wins, she will surpass the modern record of 16 straight wins that she shares with Cigar, Citation, Hallowed Dreams, and Mister Frisky. Peppers Pride joined their ranks in her last start, April 26, when she overcame a demanding trip to win the $75,000 Foutz Distaff Handicap at SunRay Park in Farmington, N.M.

Her task Sunday in the Lincoln also could be difficult. Peppers Pride is spotting her rivals between 11 and 16 pounds in the six-furlong race, which is restricted to fillies and mares bred in New Mexico. She also gives up recency to her six opponents, since she has not raced in three months. And then there's the weight of the history at stake.

"There's been a lot of pressure," said Marr. "But we're still trying to focus on just this race and not trying to think about 17 so much. But obviously, you can't. It would be great if she gets it . . . it's something you could look back on years down the road and be proud of. It would be something special for racing in this area."

Peppers Pride has raced exclusively in New Mexico-bred company since her debut at Ruidoso in 2005. She has won three races at this Ruidoso. She also won the Senorita Futurity in 2005, and the Lincoln Handicap in 2007. In all, Peppers Pride has won 12 stakes and $861,665 for her owner and breeder, Joe Allen. A 5-year-old daughter of Desert God, she has been trained throughout her career by Marr, who is hard-pressed to pick a favorite win from Peppers Pride.

"Every one she's showed up and performed, and she's done her best every time," he said. "She just does what she needs to do to get the job done. It's very seldom been a spectacular, 15-length victory or something like that. She doesn't boast. She just gets the job done. She's a professional."

Carlos Madeira has been aboard Peppers Pride in all of her starts. The two will bid for history from post 3 on Sunday, when Peppers Pride cuts back from two turns for the Lincoln.

"When we started out, never in our wildest dreams had we thought about this," Madeira said. "But when we reached 10, we really thought we had something.

"I've never ridden a horse like her. She has a lot of will, a lot of want to win. She just does not want to get beat."

Ruidoso is hosting 10 statebred stakes for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses on Sunday, with purses totaling more than $1 million. The Lincoln is the 10th of 11 races, and has a post time of 4:54 p.m. Mountain.

The forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of precipitation with a high of 78 degrees, according to weather.com. Marr has been monitoring the weather all week, and said he would not run Peppers Pride if heavy rains made for an off track on Sunday. Otherwise, he said all systems were a go with her as of Friday.