Rare Cure Assault Surprise Tops Stars of Texas Day

(from track report)
One week after finishing eighth of 10 in the $250,000 Dallas Turf Cup, multiple stakes winner Rare Cure wheeled back to win Saturday's $100,000 Assault Stakes by three-quarters of a length over Agrivating General in front of 8,386 fans at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.

The Assault was one of six stakes races which comprised the North Texas racetrack's third annual Stars of Texas Day, a mid-season championship for horses bred in Texas totaling $522,500 in prize money. Earlier on the program, Eagle Lake collected her second straight win in the $75,000 Allen Bogan Memorial, There Goes Rocket and Hay Lauren won divisions of the $122,500 Texas Stallion Stakes and Herve narrowly edged Call Me Lefty in the $50,000 Harold V. Goodman Memorial Stakes. Also, Expectacat won the Texas Stallion Consolation Stakes.

Rare Cure, winner of the Prelude Stakes at Louisiana Downs and Governor's Cup Handicap at Remington Park in 2001, collected his first stakes since winning the $100,000 Star of Texas at Sam Houston Race Park last November. It was the 5-year-old gelding's ninth win overall in 35 starts and his earnings soared to $338,570 with the $60,000 winner's share of the purse.

Just last week, Rare Cure was beaten 13 lengths by Patrol in the 1 1/8-mile Dallas Turf Cup against open company. But after keenly observing the son of Rare Brick throughout the week, trainer Joe Petalino and owner/breeder Larry Dyson decided to enter back their star runner against state-breds in the Assault.

"Some people questioned us running back that fast, but in the Dallas Turf Cup he just didn't fire at all," explained Dyson.

Rare Cure, the longest shot in the field of seven older Texas-breds at odds of 10-1, was ridden by E.J. Perrodin, the veteran Louisiana native who also rode There Goes Rocket to victory in the colts and geldings division of the Texas Stallion Stakes.

Rare Cure pulled clear in upper stretch and held well under Perrodin's strong right-handed urging to win by three-quarters of a length. Agrivating General, who rallied to get second as the 2-1 second wagering choice, was 2 ¾ lengths clear of third place finisher Desert Darby.

There Goes Rocket raced greenly in the early stages but closed well to get up in the final strides of the $122,500 colts and geldings division of the Texas Stallion Stakes. It was just the second start for the son of Valid Expectations, who circled a 10-horse field in a remarkable maiden win two weeks ago.

The final time of 1:04.37 was the fastest in the short history of this race for progeny of nominated Texas-based stallions.

For the second straight start, There Goes Rocket was in no hurry early on.

"He doesn't have a real quick turn of foot so I wasn't too concerned," David said. "I was a little concerned mid-turn when E.J. [Perrodin] started asking him to run. I could see he was responding and picking them up, but he still had a lot of work to do from there."

At the top of the stretch, There Goes Rocket was well behind the early leaders but started to find his best stride.

"As far as running style, he doesn't have a clue what he's doing yet," Perrodin said. "That's why I kept him in the clear. I tried to pull him down and they started getting away from me. I said I would lose that little bit of ground, but at least I'll keep my momentum going."

There Goes Rocket began picking up horses and was moving well on the outside through the length of the stretch.

"It was a long drive but nobody gave up," David said. "Those other horses fought us and it was a good horse race."

The winner rewarded his backers with a $14.60 return on a $2 investment. The $73,500 first-place share raised There Goes Rocket's earnings to $137,500 for owner Frank Fletcher of North Little Rock, Ark.

Iron Expectations, the more highly regarded half of the favored Steve Asmussen-trained entry, grabbed the lead at the one-sixteenth pole but could not hold off the winner's late charge. It was two lengths back to Trickey Jones in third.

Hay Lauren, runner-up in the rich TTA Sales Futurity three weeks ago, rolled down the Lone Star Park stretch impressively Saturday to collect her first stakes win in the fillies division of the $122,500 Texas Stallion Stakes. Trained by Barry Germany and ridden by leading rider Eddie Martin Jr., Hay Lauren defeated Clever Melody by two lengths and clocked 5 ½ furlongs in 1:04.89.

Hay Lauren, owned and bred by Ro Parra of Austin, Texas, was allowed to settle into stride early on, then launched her rally midway through the turn for home and closed strongly to win going away for her third victory in four starts.

"She broke well," Martin said. "I let her settle in. The speed started to get away from me a little bit at the half-mile pole, so I had to gather her up and ask her for a little bit more. She responded well."

It's been a good week for Martin, who seeks his first riding title at Lone Star Park (he leads Corey Lanerie 72 wins to 68). One week after competing in the NTRA All-Star Jockey Championship, the 40-year-old native of New Orleans collected his 2,500th career win at Louisiana Downs aboard Go West Again on Friday afternoon. On Saturday, he added two stakes wins, giving him a share of Marlon St. Julien's 1997 track record of seven stakes triumphs during a single Lone Star Park meeting.

Hay Lauren, a daughter of Hay Halo, earned $73,500 for the win and increased her earnings to $119,140.

"I was very, very pleased," Germany said. "I think the big thing about it is that it looks like she's going to want to go on a little further [in distance], which just makes her so much better."