07/01/2004 12:00AM

Pie N Burger facing loads of speed


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - There is money to be made in Saturday night's $75,000 Bob Johnson Memorial at Lone Star Park if one believes Pie N Burger is vulnerable. That's a big if, considering he is one of the region's best dirt horses, but one worth pondering.

Pie N Burger returns in 13 days following a hard-fought victory in the $50,000 Ark-La-Tex Handicap at Louisiana Downs. He will give weight to all of his rivals, and he faces a handful of speed foes in the Bob Johnson.

Nonetheless, Pie N Burger is a deserving favorite in the one-mile race because of his sharp form, past accomplishments, and high-percentage connections. But there are other horses to consider, like Guaranteed Sweep and Rare Cure.

Others of note in the Bob Johnson include Lights on Broadway, who appeared on his way to victory in an optional claimer last out when he was forced to check in deep stretch. The six-horse field is completed by Kool Humor and Won C C.

Guaranteed Sweep moves to two turns for the first time this year after running third in two optional claiming sprints. "We had no luck getting a two-turn race," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Guaranteed Sweep.

That changes Saturday, as Guaranteed Sweep gets back to perhaps his best distance. He is 3-for-4 at a mile, with his lone loss at the distance coming to Pie N Burger in last year's Bob Johnson.

Asmussen looks for Guaranteed Sweep to adapt to the pace Saturday.

"We'll let him run his race," he said. "If they go too fast, he can be four or five lengths off of it. If they don't, he can be on the lead."

Cliff Berry has the mount on Guaranteed Sweep, who is making his third start back from a layoff. He has finished first, second, or third in five of his six starts over the main track at Lone Star, and he appears to be sitting on a peak race Saturday.

Rare Cure moves back to the main track after finishing a close second in two turf allowance races. He is a multiple statebred stakes winner on dirt, with one of those wins coming in the $100,000 Assault Stakes last year at Lone Star. Trainer Joe Petalino has given the mount to leading rider Eddie Martin Jr.

Guy Smith will ride the front-running Pie N Burger, who has won his last two starts. Trained by Cole Norman, Pie N Burger had a memorable campaign last year, when he won three consecutive stakes at Lone Star, including the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap.

He passed that race this year in favor of an allowance at Louisiana Downs, which he won. He followed that win up with a one-length score in the Ark-La-Tex, which was run over a tiring track. Pie N Burger has been more settled in his past two races, and that could serve him well, with four of the horses in the Bob Johnson stretching out from sprints.

After the races, there will be a fireworks display. First post is 5 p.m. Central.