Perfect Ladies - by Dan Liebman

Down by more than a touchdown at halftime, the Tennessee Titans came from behind Nov. 16 to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Titans are the only unbeaten team in the NFL, with a 10-0 record.

In 2007, excited pro football fans thought they were witnessing a perfect season. Alas, the New England Patriots lost in the Super Bowl, leaving the 1972 Miami Dolphins—winners of Super Bowl VII—as the only undefeated team (17-0) since the modern NFL began play in 1970.

There is something special about those who refuse to lose, though it is virtually impossible in many sports, such as pro baseball, which plays a 162-game regular season, and pro basketball, which hits the court for 82 games before its lengthy playoff season begins.

Seven times a team has gone undefeated in NCAA basketball, but the feat has not been accomplished since 1976, when the Indiana Hoosiers posted a 32-0 record. Much like racing’s Golden Age in the 1970s with three Triple Crown winners, college basketball had three unbeaten teams, as John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins went a combined 60-0 in 1972 and 1973. (Wooden’s 1964 and 1967 teams also went 30-0.)

Thoroughbred racing has had its share of undefeated runners, and they hold special places in the hearts of fans as well.

In this issue of The Blood-Horse are stories about two North American fillies that come from very different backgrounds and have faced extremely different levels of competition, but have one big thing in common: they have never lost.

Though it is Zenyatta who has won four grade I races and has her connections making plans to attend the Eclipse Awards ceremony in January, it is Peppers Pride who graces the cover. Her pedigree is blue-collar, and she has never raced outside her native New Mexico, but Peppers Pride has faced the starter on 18 occasions and had her picture taken a like number of times.

When she won the New Mexico Cup Fillies and Mares Stakes Nov. 9, Peppers Pride won her 18th consecutive race, extending the record for the modern-day Thoroughbred. Her 17th victory broke the mark she held with Triple Crown winner Citation, two-time Horse of the Year Cigar, Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Mister Frisky, and Louisiana-bred and -based Hallowed Dreams.

Peppers Pride also represents a sign of the times. Though her breeder/owner Joe Allen lives in Texas, he stands two stallions in New Mexico and bred Peppers Pride there. New Mexico has purses enhanced by revenue from slot machines; Texas does not. Peppers Pride has made all of her starts in the Land of Enchantment, where gaming revenue has helped her amass earnings of $991,085.

The 5-year-old mare, by Desert God—Lady Pepper, by Chili Pepper Pie, is due to make one more start this year for trainer Joel Marr, in the New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap Dec. 14 at Sunland Park. Then Allen will have a decision to make.

Only an owner can decide whether or not to keep a horse in training or send it to the breeding shed. Every time Peppers Pride makes a start, the winning streak is on the line. But Allen, to his credit, has said repeatedly that retiring her unbeaten is secondary to retiring her sound.

Zenyatta’s owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, have said the filly will remain in training in 2009. The 4-year-old Zenyatta, by Street Cry—Vertigineux, by Kris S., is a perfect nine-for-nine following her win Oct. 24 in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I). No one would have second-guessed the Mosses in retiring Zenyatta, thus kudos to them are in order for keeping the contender for Horse of the Year in training with conditioner John Shirreffs.

We will have our eyes on Sunland Park Dec. 14 and await the news of when Zenyatta will run again.

There is a specialness about being undefeated.


Leave a Comment:


Never underestimate the power of a beautiful,strong woman, and both these ladies are really awesome!!!

18 Nov 2008 3:30 PM

 Even though Peppers Pride has raced only on New Mexico race tracks she still is a special horse who deserves credit for her winning streak. I she wins her last race this year and is not retired maybe her owner should consider taking her out of state to try some other competition. None the less she still is special.

18 Nov 2008 3:33 PM
Silver Charm

Zenyatta is the modern day Ruffian, or as close to that as any filly has been for a long time. Take nothing away from Pepper's Pride either because it takes alot of heart to win one race, but she has won 18 in a row. it makes me happy knowing that Zenyatta's owners will kep her running in '09. i can only hope now they will test her against the colts. Its also a good thing for the sport that Peppers Pride's owners have kept her racing for as long as they have. I hope that more owners and trainers follow, instead of retiring sound horses at 3 & 4. Its is unffortunate to not be able to look forward to another race from Curlin, but Zenyatta will more then fill that void her next start out. Good luck and God bless both of these beautiful & talented animals

18 Nov 2008 5:47 PM

I think her owners have it Right.   I mean...isn't the whole idea of Racing "WIN" ???  

It shouldn't matter at what level.   "Winning" is "Winning" and that's what it's all about.   Or have the Naysayers forgotten that ???

18 Nov 2008 6:11 PM

Thank you for recognizing these two incredible athletes!  It is amazing that Peppers Pride has accomplished her winning streak and I'm glad that she is getting some credit for it, despite all the naysayers who challenge and belittle her accomplishments due to being in one state only.  It is still eighteen races won in a row.  As far as Zenyatta is concerned, she has been a thrill to watch this year and I am delighted to be able to look forward to watching her next year.  Thank you!

18 Nov 2008 6:38 PM
Michael Cusortelli

I would love to see Peppers Pride take on open company -- even if it's just in Texas or Arizona.

I think, against the right company, she would make a good account of herself.

I'll say this for her -- she does NOT know how to lose!

18 Nov 2008 7:10 PM

I'm glad Peppers Pride is getting the recognition she deserves. Nothing against Zenyatta, and I understand the difference in competition, but let's see if she can go 18 for 18.

18 Nov 2008 8:32 PM

Thanks for the article Dan.  I wrote Mr. Haskins about Peppers Pride, frustrated that her success had not reached the "general public" as I find her accomplishment simply amazing.  Of course showing his patience with an over enthusiastic fan he pointed out the difficulty in getting the story on the local news broadcast.  We praise those horses that are at the top of their game in the various categories, whether winner of a Triple Crown race or Eclipse award winner.  I think consistency deserves the same amount of attention.

18 Nov 2008 10:54 PM
Dreamer's Mom

While I haven't seen the past performances on Pepper's Pride, I bet she has raced in open company.  If New Mexico is anything like where I race, state-bred races are hard to come by-one race a day has to be state-bred.  There is something to be said for walking across the street and taking the money.  Pepper's Pride has in NO way taken the easy route. She just stayed home and took all the money!  She is one classy lady and I wish her continued success.  Love those tough-knockin' mares!  Wish I had a barn full of horses like Pepper's Pride-don't we all?

19 Nov 2008 9:17 PM


I'm very thrilled that you and  THE BLOOD-HORSE are recognizing Peppers Pride and have made her your current "cover girl." Just like Zenyatta, Curlin, and Big Brown, Peppers Pride has been a boom for American racing. I think it's wonderful that New Mexico racing and their venues are getting notoriety because of this amazing mare, not to mention what I'm sure it's meant to the people of that great state known as the "Land of Enchantment." Peppers Pride has certainly enchanted us! And I think what's good for one racing jurisdiction, large or small, is good for all of them.

Winning 18 races in a row is an extraordinary feat no matter what level it was done. I applaud Joel Marr and the other connections for the way they've superbly handled and cared for their racemare, keeping her sound and happy and wanting her to remain sound more than simply being successful on the track.

I honestly and deeply hope that at the Eclipse Awards, Peppers Pride and her connections will be recognized in a special way. I also think it would be a touching tribute if she were to get a few votes for Horse of the Year.

Just as I've been awed by Zenyatta's perfect year, and privileged to have seen Curlin surpass Cigar as all-time North American money earner, I've been equally moved to have witnessed Peppers Pride become the all-time North American leader in consecutive wins. We can all cherish her record, as we did when it previously belonged to Citation, Cigar, Hallowed Dreams and Mr. Frisky.

Thank you for honoring Peppers Pride in such a beautiful way.

19 Nov 2008 11:47 PM
Paula Higgins

Winning 18 races against any group of horses, Grade 1 or not, is a significant achievement. The odds are against it. I think Pepper's Pride deserves alot of respect.

Zenyatta will be interesting to watch in 2009. She is a spectacular horse.

20 Nov 2008 1:36 AM

These two are a great mare & filly. They are not ladies. Mother Theresa and my mom are great ladies.

I guess that would make Curlin and Big Brown great men, or, gentlemen?


20 Nov 2008 8:25 AM
Dreamer's Mom

No Rachel, Big Brown and Curlin aren't Gentlemen, they are the "boys"!  Because everyone knows girls grow up to be ladies, but boys will always be boys!

20 Nov 2008 8:57 AM

I love the "boys and ladies" comments. Those two fillys are great and I know my husband won't be happy with me saying this, but I wish they would make a Peppers Pride hat so I could get one to alternate with my Zenyatta hat I just ordered. Long live the great fillys!

20 Nov 2008 12:55 PM

To those not in the industry, here is most trainers thinking- "Keep yourself in the best company and your horse in the worst."  With this in mind, if PP runs next year; if it's not broke don't fix it.  Would be nice to see her run next year in New Mexico.  Great job.  

20 Nov 2008 2:39 PM

Dreamer's Mom, I say this with a twinkle in my eye, but I am not going to call the girls (mares and fillies) "ladies"...I have 1 girl (mare), 2 boys (stallion & gelding), none are ladies or men.

Viva the Distaff!

20 Nov 2008 3:24 PM

PS I grew up to be a cowgirl

20 Nov 2008 3:25 PM

congrads to both zenyatta and peppers pride go girl power zenyatta you deserve t;he horse of the year a pervfect 9 for 9 you are beautiful and big run fast run true but most important run safe and strong legs to the both of you

20 Nov 2008 8:00 PM
Dreamer's Mom

I'm with you on the Distaff.  "Ladies Classic" sounds like some sort of bad deodorant!  

My only point was this-I don't walk in to the shedrow and say "hello filly or hello gelding".  They are "the kids" or "baby girl" or even "big dork".  When my partner says "get the girls ready" I know he isn't talking about my daughters and my daughters don't mind having us call the horses "the girls"!

20 Nov 2008 8:18 PM
John T.

The two best fillies on the planet this season both started with the letter Z,Zarkava and Zenyatta.Both fillies

were unbeaten and both showed a remarkable turn of foot when it mattered most.Peppers Pride is not in that class but she still deserves a lot of credit for remaining undefeated in 18 starts.

20 Nov 2008 10:44 PM

need to let general public know about Pepper too...

23 Nov 2008 2:01 PM

We (Bellwether Productions,Winnercomm & Fox Sports) had a deal for a one hour prime time show for her 19th shot(not enough time Sunland Park said,we had just enough time & would have put together one hell of a show) & a new CONCEPT on how to PROMOTE & TELACAST HORSE RACING...trademarked..."Won Oh! Won"...reintroduction & education of HORSE RACING in AMERCIA!!!...SOONER OR LATER we will pull it off!!!Long Live The is comming!!!

25 Nov 2008 4:04 AM

I breed and race T-breds all over the country and I'm simply amazed at both Z and Pepper!  It is every breeders dream to produce a horse of either's caliber! Everyone knows that Peppers couldn't hang with open company but,  a million dollars is a million dollars no matter where it comes from!  Congrats to the connections of both fillies!  What a dream come true!

25 Nov 2008 11:18 AM
russell maiers

Great article, and they totally deserve the attention, recognition, and peoples love.

25 Nov 2008 8:18 PM
Dan Daniels

I would love to be able to buy a Pepper's Pride hat!

15 Dec 2008 10:49 AM

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