11/12/2008 1:00AM

Peppers Pride rare constant in unpredictable game


PHILADELPHIA - Peppers Pride has now tied the New England Patriots. She will try to finish her career Dec. 14 at Sunland Park by winning for the 19th consecutive time, something even the Patriots could not do in the 2008 Super Bowl.

No, I am not comparing the New Mexico-bred mare to a three-time Super Bowl champion, just the winning streaks.

Every time Peppers Pride wins, I print out her updated past performances, take them to the track, and show them to players I know. Some of them have heard of Peppers Pride, and even they shake their heads in amazement when they see 18 consecutive 1's at the end of her running lines. From July 16, 2005 to Nov. 9, 2008, the 5-year-old mare has won every time - 3 wins as a 2-year-old, 4 wins as a 3-year-old, 7 wins as a 4-year-old, and 4 wins as a 5-year-old. Only three times has she been in a photo, winning one by a nose and two by a neck.

Look, I get that she is not challenging Zenyatta anytime soon with a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 95 and the 73 Beyer she got in her most recent conquest, a $175,000 stakes last Sunday at Zia Park against six other New Mexico-breds. She has never raced on a dirt track that was anything but fast. She has never raced outside of her home state or farther than a mile. I get all that. I still think this is one of the great racing feats of modern times, even if nobody is clamoring to televise her races or giving any awards to the mare or her connections.

But I do think Peppers Pride represents all those horses at all those tracks that time long since forgot, the horses that are not very well bred and don't run all that fast but try every time just because they like to run.

And that should be celebrated, probably with some kind of special Eclipse Award for the mare and the three people that have been with her from the start. For 18 winning races, it has been the same owner, same trainer, same jockey - Joe Allen, Joel Marr, and Carlos Madeira.

Anybody who plays this game values consistency, the most elusive attribute for horses and the people who bet on them. Nothing ever stays the same - except Peppers Pride.

Undefeated just does not happen in sports anymore, certainly not in horse racing where winning any race is difficult, winning every race just about impossible. Too much can go wrong.

It has been 20 years since Personal Ensign ended her career unbeaten. Smarty Jones came the closest to getting through this unforgiving game without a loss. Big Brown won every race except the one he did not finish.

Admittedly, the competition in Sunday's New Mexico Cup Fillies and Mares was not memorable. The pacesetter, 38-1 La Sorpresa, entered the race with a career-best Beyer of 64. She was able to hold on for second, beaten by just a length in a performance that her legion of fans will never forget.

Peppers Pride has had 139 opponents finish behind her in those 18 races. A few of them have tried over and over and over.

One unfortunate mare, Theregoesdancer, has raced against Peppers Pride eight times. She ran her to that nose on Oct. 17, 2006. Before anybody could dream of Affirmed-Alydar, Theregoesdancer tried Peppers Pride seven consecutive times. She was second five times, fifth once, and sixth once.

Theregoesdancer missed Peppers Pride in February when the great mare was still gearing up for her 2008 campaign. Incredibly, Theregoesdancer finished fifth in that allowance race, probably confused that there was no Peppers Pride to try to chase after in the stretch.

When Peppers Pride did make her 2008 debut on March 23, Theregoesdancer was close by in the starting gate and close by at the finish, second by 2 1/4 lengths.

So, yes, I will be very interested on Dec. 14, probably without much action. Peppers Pride has been odds-on in her last eight starts. Unless the New York Giants suddenly descend on New Mexico, I am thinking she likely will be a very good bet again.

I just had a thought. What would a $2 win parlay on Peppers Pride be worth? I started to figure it out, but my calculator began to smoke and the project had to be put off.

Even if somebody's calculator could get that high, my guess is some of those giant bets in the most recent races might have changed the odds slightly and just maybe changed the ultimate value of said parlay.

What we know for sure is that Peppers Pride has earned $991,085, which I am going to guess is another record - the most money earned by a horse that has earned just one Beyer above 88. With Peppers Pride, that is exactly what you get, one record after another.