Any thoroughbred trainer will tell you that winning just one race is hard. There are so many things that can go wrong in the running of a race. To win, a horse must be talented but also possess racing luck. Peppers Pride, a filly that raced solely on the New Mexico racing circuit, had both, and she broke the legendary Cigar’s record for consecutive wins when she captured her 19th straight victory on December 14, 2008.
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Peppers Pride was foaled in New Mexico on March 24, 2003. Her sire was Desert God, a horse of moderate success on the racetrack. Her dam, Lady Pepper, placed in the 1990 Bluebonnet Stakes, but her career was otherwise unspectacular. Peppers Pride is an example of how breeding does not always serve to precisely indicate how well a horse will perform on the racetrack. While the mare certainly had successful horses in her lineage, there was little on paper that would have inspired bloodstock agents to take note.
Joel Marr was retained by the mare’s owners to train her for racing in her home state of New Mexico. With several notable tracks, New Mexico is perhaps more known for quarterhorse racing. Many famous trainers such as Bob Baffert began their careers training quarterhorses in the state. The thoroughbred competition in New Mexico, however, is typically considered to be among the weakest in the United States. This would become a source of controversy after Peppers Pride set the record for consecutive wins. Many pointed out that Cigar and others with long win streaks had accomplished their wins against much tougher competition.
Horse jockey Carlos Madeira rode Peppers Pride in each of her 19 victories, which included wins in the New Mexico Classic Cup Juvenile Fillies. Peppers Pride proved time and again that she was capable of meeting and defeating the best fillies and mares in New Mexico, but no one will ever know how she would have done against those on other circuits. Pepper’s Pride was retired after her 19th straight win, having never left the state of New Mexico to compete.
Peppers Pride’s owner, Joe Allen, took the criticism in stride. He stated that he was well aware that Peppers Pride was not a horse that could be compared to Cigar or Citation, and said that he was simply glad to have her. There is a refreshing aspect to this that some horseracing fans miss. Allen and trainer Joel Marr did an excellent job of managing the mare’s career, placing her in races where she had the best chance to win.
The real EZ horse betting lesson that should be learned from the career of Peppers Pride is the factor owners and trainers play in a horse’s career. Many times when a horse performs poorly it is because they have been entered in races that are too difficult. Horse betting requires a handicapper to look at a horse’s past performances to determine whether or not they belong in the race they are in today.
Why would a trainer enter a horse in a race they cannot win? There are several reasons. First, the trainer may be pressured by the owner to enter a specific race. This does not happen as much at the highest levels with trainers like Steve Asmussen or Todd Pletcher. Those trainers are likely to refuse an owner’s request. At the smaller tracks, however, this happens all the time. The trainer must often give in to the owner’s request or lose the horse to another trainer that will.
Sometimes, a horse is entered in a race to prepare or “prep” for another, more important race. In this case, winning may not be the goal. The trainer may simply want the horse to have a good showing and increase its fitness level. Finally, a horse may simply have no other place to compete and need to race. Thoroughbred horses are used to the activity of a race, and many of them need regular racing in order to keep sharp. Unfortunately, especially on the smaller circuits, there may not always be a suitable race for a horse’s class level. In that case, the horse is often entered in a race that is beyond their skill level just to give them an opportunity to run.
Peppers Pride is an example of brilliant management by the team of owner and trainer. They only raced in events they thought they could win, and as a result the mare broke the record for consecutive wins in North America. Camarero, a horse that raced in Puerto Rico, won an amazing 56 in a row!
In retirement, Peppers Pride has been bred to a number of top stallions, but her fans are particularly excited that she is now in foal to the 2015 Triple Crown Champion, American Pharoah. All eyes will be on this foal as it grows and makes its way to the horse racetrack.
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