The new year has begun, and all across the country, 3-year-olds are preparing for the grueling march to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). The horses that remain from last year's classic crop are just beginning their journey to the Breeders' Cup. But the main headlines should belong to Proven Cure, who truly is the star of the year so far.

On May 3, 1997, Silver Charm captured the Kentucky Derby. Four days later, another 3-year-old, named Proven Cure, made his career debut, finishing a well-beaten sixth in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race. Silver Charm has long been retired and shipped off to Japan, but Proven Cure not only is still racing at age 12, he's actually as good as he's ever been.

By winning his first start of the year on Jan. 8, a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race on dirt at Sam Houston in a swift 1:03 4/5, the son of Cure the Blues has now won six of his last eight starts, including victories in the Brother Brown Stakes at Remington Park last August, in which he ran five furlongs on the turf in :56 2/5, and the Sam Houston Turf Sprint last April, covering the five furlongs in :57 4/5.

With his latest victory, Proven Cure, who is owned and bred by Dr. William A. Reed's Stonecrest Farm of Perfect Drift fame, has now won 19 of 82 career starts, with 16 seconds and six thirds, for earnings of $691,331. In his last 12 starts, he's finished in the money 11 times, with his only out-of-the-money performance being a fourth-place finish.

Proven Cure's only other stakes victory came in the 2000 Don Bernhardt Stakes at Ellis Park. He's also placed in four stakes at all four major Kentucky tracks – Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Turfway Park, and Ellis Park.

Just when it looked as if the old boy had reached the end of his career, winning only once in 18 starts at ages seven and eight, he became rejuvenated at age nine when it was decided to move him away from Kentucky, where he was stabled with trainer Murray Johnson, to an easier circuit, with John Locke, who is based in Texas. In four starts with Locke, he won two, with a second and a fourth in the Sam Houston Turf Sprint.

He was returned to Johnson, but could only manage a single victory in a claiming race over the next year. Once again, he was sent to Locke in Texas, where he would be more competitive. Since the second move, at the sprightly age of 10, Proven Cure has won seven of 12 starts, with three seconds and a third.

With Proven Cure having discovered the fountain of youth at an age when many stallions are considered over the hill, and with Perfect Drift about to begin his 7-year-old campaign, having already bankrolled almost $4.3 million, it is obvious that Stonecrest Farm has unlocked the secret of how to keep horses happy, healthy and competitive over the course of many years.

Their main method is to turn them out at their farm near Kansas City every winter and let them enjoy themselves by frolicking about carefree for a few months before returning to the track. For that, Stonecrest Farm deserves a special commendation at a time when horses come and go way too quickly.

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