Rare Cure Wins $75,000 Bob Johnson at Lone Star Park

(July 3, 2004) - Six-year-old Texas-bred Rare Cure collected his fifth career stakes win with a determined neck victory over odds-on favorite Pie N Burger in Saturday's $75,000 Bob Johnson Memorial Stakes in front of an estimated crowd of 19,000 at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Owned and bred by Larry Dyson of Bonham, Texas, Rare Cure ran one mile in 1:36.18 and paid $21 to win in the field of six older horses.

Leading jockey Eddie Martin Jr. rode the winner for trainer Joe Petalino. It was Martin's sixth stakes victory of Lone Star Park's meeting, tops among the riding colony.

The victory was Rare Cure's first since capturing the $100,000 Assault Stakes at Lone Star Park in June 2003. Other career stakes wins include the $50,000 Prelude Stakes at Louisiana Downs and $75,000 Governor's Cup at Remington Park in 2001 and the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame Stakes at Retama Park in 2002.

"I thought he'd go south by now, but he's awfully good right now," Petalino said. "He's getting better."

Martin, who declined to comment after the race, settled Rare Cure off the pace midway through the first turn after breaking alertly from the rail. Rare Cure moved off the rail entering the backstretch and settled on the outside of pacesetters Won C C, Guaranteed Sweep, Pie N Burger and Kool Humor.

The first quarter-mile was run in :24.03 and the half-mile was clocked at :47.45. Rare Cure ranged up three-wide on the far turn, made a bid passing the quarter pole and took a short lead at the head of the stretch. The gelded son of Rare Brick maintained that lead in the final furlong and held gamely under vigorous handling by Martin.

Pie N Burger, the defending Bob Johnson champ and heavy 2-5 favorite, just missed after contesting the pace throughout.

"He was a little wide about halfway around the first turn, but after that I was able to get him over and save a little ground," said Pie N Burger's jockey Guy Smith. "Then he just kind of toted me up to the lead. He was up there nice and easy. He fired down the lane, but I'm not sure that was his best race. He ran hard and he tried hard. We just ended up second."

Pie N Burger was a half-length in front of a fast-closing Lights On Broadway. Guaranteed Sweep, Won C C and Kool Humor completed the order of finish.

Saturday's triumph was worth $40,000 to Rare Cure. Overall, he has amassed $410,450 through 10 wins, nine seconds and four thirds in 46 starts.

It was the third time that Rare Cure had tried to defeat open company in the Bob Johnson, which honors the late member of the Texas House of Representatives who helped legalize pari-mutuel wagering on horse races in Texas through legislation in 1986. Rare Cure finished last in his previous two tries: eighth in 2002 and sixth a year ago.

In his previous start, Petalino opted to remove blinkers, or headwear for the occasionally distracted horse, for the first time in 42 starts. Rare Cure finished second that day, June 17, in a 7 ½-furlong allowance on turf.

"Taking those blinkers off might not have been a bad deal," Petalino said. "When horses would get around him he was getting really intimidated but now he can see a little more, I think."

Rare Cure also returned to the dirt after three straight tries on turf.
"I think the first time back [on dirt], he runs better," Petalino said. "I think he's a better grass horse now, but first time off the grass he always seems better."

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