10/01/2008 12:00AM

Peppers Pride goes for record-breaker


Poor Cigar.

A week after Curlin broke his earnings record, his mark for consecutive wins is in jeopardy. Peppers Pride will be a strong favorite to win her 17th consecutive race Saturday at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., and if she does she will set a modern standard for a North American-based Thoroughbred.

She now shares the record of 16 with Cigar, Citation, Hallowed Dreams, and Mister Frisky. Her trainer, Joel Marr, said he vividly remembers Cigar's bid for a 17th win back in 1996 in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic.

"I watched him that day and I was empty afterward because I wanted him to win," Marr said. "He's just a great horse, one of the greatest. I wished he wouldn't have lost that day."

Peppers Pride, who is undefeated, has compiled her wins on a much quieter stage. She has raced exclusively in her native New Mexico, where she has earned $861,665 for her breeder and owner, Joe Allen. Saturday, she leads a field of six statebred fillies and mares in a $35,000 optional claiming race. Peppers Pride is eligible to race under the allowance conditions because she has not won two races other than maiden, claiming, starter, or trial since April 1. Her last start was on April 26, in the $75,000 Foutz Distaff at SunRay Park in Farmington, N.M.

Since then, Peppers Pride has been entered in two stakes. She was set to make her record bid in the Lincoln Handicap at Ruidoso Downs on July 27, but the entire card had to be canceled because of flooding. The race was rescheduled a month later, but Marr scratched Peppers Pride after a rainstorm in the middle of the card left the track muddy.

Marr then entertained a start in a one-mile allowance that was to be run last Sunday at Zia, but the race did not fill. The timing of the six-furlong optional claimer on Saturday works well for Peppers Pride, as it comes about a month before her meet objective, the $170,000 Filly and Mare Distaff on Nov. 9.

"We went in there because we wanted to get a race before the stake because she hasn't run since the end of April," said Marr. "She's been ready to run a couple of times and she's ready to run again, so that's our thinking."

Peppers Pride is based at Zia, and the track's assistant general manager, Rick Baugh, said he has received lots of media requests for Saturday. He said TVG will broadcast the race live, while ESPN and ABC affiliates in Albuquerque, Lubbock, and Midland are working to pick up the race. He also said there have been inquiries from local CBS and NBC affiliates. As for projecting an ontrack crowd size Saturday, he said it is difficult because Zia is located in a young racing market.

"We've never had anything like this before," he said. "I hope we're stacked to the rafters."

Baugh said there will be no show wagering on the Peppers Pride race, which goes as the eighth, at approximately 3:17 p.m. Mountain.

Acting Zippy targets Oklahoma Derby

Acting Zippy, who won an optional claimer over older horses last month at Remington Park, is being pointed for the $350,000 Oklahoma Derby at the track on Oct. 19, said his co-owner and trainer, Don Bennett. For his win, Acting Zippy earned a strong Beyer Speed Figure of 96.

Acting Zippy, an eight-length maiden special weight winner this past summer at Prairie Meadows, ran fifth in the $250,000 Iowa Derby there June 27. He was checked in the stretch, and was later placed fourth through a disqualification. Acting Zippy is a son of City Zip.

The Oklahoma Derby, at 1 1/8 miles, had its purse boosted by $50,000 last month. The race could also draw Golden Yank, who in his last start was fourth in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. Golden Yank is based at Remington, where last year he won a maiden special weight and the MEC Mile.

* Retama Park will card six restricted stakes worth $500,000 on Saturday night. Before the races, Bill Allen, Bobby Cox, the late Dorothy Scharbauer, and Joe Straus Jr. will be inducted into the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame.