Hot Peppers paddock schooling at Keeneland (Coady Photography)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Graded-stakes winning sophomore filly Hot Peppers, who scratched from Saturday’s $120,000 Garland of Roses at Aqueduct Racetrack, will attempt to end her season on a high note when shipping to Santa Anita for the Grade 1, $300,000 La Brea on December 26.
Owned by Michael Dubb and Michael J. Caruso, Hot Peppers was triumphant in her first two starts for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, capturing the Jersey Girl and Grade 3 Victory Ride in wire-to-wire fashion over the summer at Belmont Park. She was only 1 1/2 lengths shy of a Grade 1 victory when second in the August 6 Longines Test at Saratoga Race Course before finishing fourth as the lukewarm favorite in the Grade 2 Prioress on September 2 over the same oval.
She initially targeted the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Keeneland for her return, but was scratched after stepping on a stone in training and developing a bruise.
Hot Peppers breezed a half-mile over the Belmont training track in 48.75 seconds Saturday in preparation for the seven-furlong La Brea.
“She worked well yesterday and seemed to be doing well this morning, so everything is pointing that way,” Rodriguez said. “We were going to run her here because it’s her home track, but the boss wants to try for some more Grade 1 black type. For her resume as a broodmare, it would make sense for us to try that. We just have to get lucky and hope for the best.”
A private purchase from previous owner and trainer Ronald Spatz following an open-lengths maiden coup at Gulfstream Park, Hot Peppers remained with Spatz through her next three starts, including a pair of scores against winners at Gulfstream ahead of a troubled off-the-board effort in the Sophomore Fillies in March at Tampa Bay Downs.
Bred in Florida by Brent Fernung and Crystal Fernung, Hot Peppers has banked $392,950 through a 9-5-2-0 record.
Rodriguez also reported that The Elkstone Group’s New York-bred multiple stakes winner Wudda U Think Now will target the $100,000 Alex M. Robb on Saturday, December 17 at Aqueduct. The Fast Anna gelding captured the Hollie Hughes in February at the Big A, matching a career-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure from his prior victorious effort. Two starts later he doubled up on stakes scores by capturing the John Morrissey on August 12 at Saratoga.
The Alex M. Robb will be Wudda U Think Now’s first start going one mile since an allowance optional claiming score at the Big A in March 2021.
“I might blow him out a little bit on Monday or Tuesday and hopefully that sets us up,” Rodriguez said.
Dylan Davis, who has worked Wudda U Think Now the past two breezes, will pick up the mount.