Lucky 19 – The Last For Pepper?

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 14, 2008 in General Discussion, News | No Comments >>

The 50th year of racing begins today at Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino, and on Sunday, New Mexico’s immensely popular Peppers Pride goes for her 19th straight win to kick off the opening weekend.

The 5-year-old achieved national acclaim when, on Oct. 4th, she broke the modern North American record for consecutive wins, when she took first in a six-furlong race at Zia Park in Hobbs, running her streak to 17 straight. She later won on Nov. 9th at Zia to make it 18-for-18.

Her win on Oct. 4th bettered the record shared by some of horse racing’s biggest names, including Citation, Cigar and Hallowed Dreams.

“We never really thought about the record until after she won her 10th race and then people started asking about it,” said trainer Joel Marr, a New Mexico State University graduate.

“It’s been an incredible journey for this horse and for the team. When she was younger, we could see she had potential, but we never could have believed that she’d be perfect. There is a thousand things that could go wrong in a race, but Peppers Pride has found a way to get it done.”

Sunday’s race could be the final one for the New Mexico-bred Peppers Pride, who has raced exclusively in New Mexico for owner Joe Allen of Abilene, Texas. A final decision hasn’t been made yet. Peppers Pride has earned more than $990,000 in her career, and a win in Sunday’s 10th race, with a purse of $125,000, will put her over the $1 million mark.

“Peppers Pride always seems to find that extra gear,” said Eric Alwan, who handles publicity at Sunland Park Racetrack and who has called races with Peppers Pride involved. “She’s strong, she’s competitive and she just finds ways to win. She narrowly won in a race early in her career and had she lost that one, we wouldn’t be talking about the streak right now. But she’s so capable, and the streak is great for the sport and for New Mexico.”

Races run at Sunland Park on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The meet will last 77 days through April, and post time is 12:15 p.m. There will be 30 stakes race worth $100,000 or more, and the daily average purses for the meet should exceed $250,000.