12/27/2003 12:00AM

Search for a Cure doesn't bounce

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A horse who runs a big race returning from a long layoff often regresses next time out. That's not how Search for a Cure reacted, however.

Search for a Cure, who had been idle for more than seven months before winning an optional claiming race on Dec. 7, handled a rise in class to win Saturday's $50,000 Squan Song Stakes for Maryland-bred fillies and mares at Laurel Park.

A 4-year-old filly trained by Dale Capuano, Search for a Cure ($19.40) sat under jockey Jeremy Rose behind a disputed pace and made a late move to surge past both Darnestown and Bamba just before the wire. Search for a Cure finished a half-length in front, covering seven furlongs in 1:25.15. Darnestown nosed out Bamba, the 2-1 favorite, for second.

"I wasn't sure I was going to get there," Rose Rose. "She had every opportunity to throw in the towel but she fought harder than they did today."