04/20/2006 12:00AM

Proven Cure, 12, has shot in turf sprint

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Proven Cure's record of two wins and a stakes placing in three starts this year is impressive, but even more so considering that he is 12. Saturday at Lone Star Park, he can add to his resume when he starts as a top contender in the $40,000 Littlebitlively.

The five-furlong turf race is an overnight stakes restricted to horses who have not won a stakes in 2006.

In his last start, Proven Cure came about as close to winning a stakes as a horse can get, finishing second by a nose to multiple stakes winner Charming Socialite in the $40,000 Turf Sprint Cup at Sam Houston on April 8. Proven Cure tracked the pace in second and closed with determination in the five-furlong turf race, which went in a course-record time of 56.60 seconds.

"He ran really good," said John Locke, who trains Proven Cure for Stonecrest Farm. "A lot of horses, as they get older, they lose that spark, that competitive spark, [but] this horse, he still wants to win, and he is still enthusiastic about racing. So, that's one thing that I think helps him be as good as he is."

Proven Cure, who won two turf sprint stakes last year at the age of 11, has compiled a record of 20 wins from 84 starts for earnings of $709,531. He has made the bulk of his money on the main track, but is 7 for 29 on turf, for grass earnings of $204,311.

"Usually a horse will show more affinity for one surface than the other, but it really doesn't seem to matter much with him," said Locke.

Proven Cure will break from post 6 in the Littlebitlively.

"Our preference is to sit off the pace and make a run," said Locke.

Proven Cure is part of a three-horse entry trained by Locke. It is completed by Oncearoundtwice and Prince Warner. Quincy Hamilton has been named on both Proven Cure and Oncearoundtwice.

Others of interest in the 12-horse Littlebitlively include Nuttyboom, a stakes-placed sprinter who was fourth last out in a tough optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park. The winner of the race, Dreamsandvisions, is being pointed for the Grade 2, $200,000 Churchill Downs Handicap on May 6.

Ralph Irwin trains Nuttyboom, and has given the mount to Don Pettinger.

The field also includes the mare Runs Naked, who is 7 for 18 on turf, and Grand Bank, who was fourth last out in a stakes-quality allowance race at Oaklawn Park.