04/23/2008 11:00PM

Peppers Pride out to tie record


The undefeated Peppers Pride has quietly gone about the business of winning since she launched her career in her native New Mexico in July 2005. Things get noisier on Saturday. Peppers Pride will be seeking to become just the fifth Thoroughbred in North America to reach the modern mark of 16 consecutive wins when she starts in the $75,000 Russell and Helen Foutz Distaff Handicap at SunRay Park in Farmington, N.M.

With a victory, Peppers Pride would join the ranks of Mister Frisky and Hallowed Dreams, who won the first 16 races of their careers, and Citation and Cigar, who strung together 16 straight wins in the midst of their careers. The pressure to reach the record is there, but Joel Marr, who trains Peppers Pride for her breeder, Joe Allen, said he was trying to take things in stride on Thursday.

"We just try to do the same thing we've always done with her," said Marr. "She doesn't know that it's 16. She doesn't know that it's any different than the time before, luckily. We try not to think about it. We're not approaching it like it's No. 16. That's not why we do what we do. It just kind of happened. But obviously, we don't ever want her to get beat."

The task for Peppers Pride on Saturday is not an easy one. She will meet eight other New Mexico-bred fillies and mares in the Foutz, and will spot her rivals between six and 14 pounds as the 127-pound highweight. Peppers Pride also must overcome a wide post in the 6 1/2-furlong race, which will be run around two turns on SunRay's six-furlong track.

There is also the threat that Bossy Bush, who is 4 for 4 against Thoroughbreds after launching her career in an 870-yard race against Quarter Horses, could get loose on the lead. The race will be the second start at SunRay for Peppers Pride, who won at the distance last year. She made a 400-mile van trip to the track Thursday, coming in from her base at Sunland Park near El Paso, Texas.

"My concerns are having to haul to another track, and the smaller track with the speed in the race," Marr said. "I'm not so concerned about her. She's doing well, and will try as hard as she can.

"She has a lot of desire. She just has a natural ability to sense the wire, to know when it's time to do what she has to do."

Carlos Madeira has ridden Peppers Pride in her 15 starts. The two will break from post 7 in the Foutz.

"We'll be trying to get around that first turn in good shape because it comes up pretty quick," said Marr. "Hopefully, she'll get away from the gate well and catches 'em."

If she does, Peppers Pride could be going for win No. 17 at Ruidoso Downs. The next race in the division for the mare, who has started exclusively in New Mexico-bred company, is the Lincoln Handicap there July 27. However, the first order of business is to make some history at SunRay on Saturday.