01/11/2006 1:00AM

Proven Cure turns 12, responds with a win


Proven Cure, who won two stakes last year at age 11, has not lost a step with the turn of the calendar. He won his 12-year-old debut last Sunday night at Sam Houston Race Park, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 98.

It was a strong performance from Proven Cure, who won a 5 1/2-furlong optional-claiming allowance over a stout field that included stakes winners Run Zeal Run and Herve.

"That was fun," said John Locke, who trains Proven Cure for the Stonecrest Farm operation of William Reed.

Locke said in addition to the horse's simply winning at 12, he was impressed Proven Cure ran the distance in a sharp 1:03.84, and that he continued to compete at such a high level on Sunday.

"You see horses his age that are still racing occasionally, but usually they're running against lower-class horses," Locke said.

Locke attributes Proven Cure's longevity to the generous timing Reed likes to give his horses between starts, and the good care Proven Cure received earlier in his career when he was based in Kentucky with trainer Murray Johnson.

Proven Cure has been based in Texas with Locke since September 2004. He won five straight races last year, including the $50,000 Sam Houston Sprint Turf Cup at Sam Houston and the $40,000 Brother Brown at Remington Park.

Next-race plans are pending for Proven Cure.

"We'll talk with Dr. Reed and see what direction he wants to take," he said. "I would think we'll plan on running back here if there's a race that comes up that is appropriate."

In all, Proven Cure has won 19 races from 82 starts and has earned $691,331. Reed also races $4.2 million earner Perfect Drift, who is trained by Johnson.

Connally the goal for Gigawatt

Gigawatt is scheduled to have his first work back from a layoff on Sunday, and his trainer, Jonas Gibson, said the goal for the horse is the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Handicap at Sam Houston on April 8.

Gigawatt is in training at Louisiana Downs. He last raced on July 4, and finished second on turf in the Independence Handicap at the track. In all, Gigawatt, who has raced for a number of different owners and trainers, has won two stakes and earned $399,832.

Gigawatt, who is new to the Gibson barn, will likely make one start at Sam Houston three weeks before the Connally, Gibson said. The horse is one of eight Gibson has in training at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs. Gibson is a 23-year-old native of Benton, La., and a former football player for Louisiana State University.

Gibson registered his first career win last June, and in October sent out Kilates Kiss to finish sixth in the Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

Nina Leatherman dies at 60

Nina Leatherman, a longtime breeder, owner, and trainer, died on Dec. 13 in Temple, Texas, after suffering a stroke. She was 60.

Leatherman, who had been in racing more than 30 years, competed throughout the Midwest and Southwest, and in recent years was a regular on the Texas circuit. One of the best horses she owned was Milk Money, a stakes winner of $105,738.

Leatherman is survived by George Leatherman, her husband of 35 years; a son, James Leatherman, the racing secretary at Retama Park near San Antonio; and a daughter, Melanie Blisard.

A memorial service for Leatherman, who was popular with her peers, drew about 100 people late last month at Retama.

Full brother to Boots on Sunday heads field

Rain on Monday, a full brother to multiple stakes winner Boots on Sunday, appears to be the one to beat in the sixth race Friday night at Sam Houston. The 5 1/2-furlong race is for 3-year-olds who have never won two races. Rain on Monday won his maiden in his last start on Nov. 3, and since then has worked a bullet four furlongs in 47.60 seconds at Sam Houston. Trainer Danny Pish has given the mount to Omar Rodriguez.

* A winter mixed sale featuring horses of racing age as well as broodmares will be held at Traders Rest Farm in Scott, La., on Sunday. The sale will begin at 11 a.m. Central. It is produced by Stemmans, Inc.

* Sam Houston handled a meet-high $2,673,370 last Friday.