11/16/2003 12:00AM

Comic Truth scores big in Oklahoma Derby


OKLAHOMA CITY - Comic Truth gave his connections a lot of firsts on Sunday when he stormed to a 10-length win over odds-on favorite Excessivepleasure in the Grade 3, $160,700 at Remington Park. It was another two and a quarter lengths back in third to Morning Merry.

Comic Truth's win was the first stakes victory for his trainer, Patrick Daly; the first graded win for his sire, Proudest Romeo; and the first Oklahoma Derby win for eight-time Remington riding champ Cliff Berry.

Berry picked up the mount on Comic Truth when a connecting flight carrying the horse's regular rider, Rafael Bejarano, was grounded in Memphis because of fog. The rider was traveling to town from Louisville, Ky. Also on the plane was Jon Court, who was to ride Excessivepleasure. The mount went to Don Pettinger.

Comic Truth($7), showing more speed than he had in his recent starts, assumed a stalking position early in the Oklahoma Derby, about two lengths behind Excessivepleasure, who led the field through fractions of 23.47 seconds for the opening quarter and 47.45 seconds for the half-mile mark. Comic Truth inched up along the rail on the backstretch, then unleashed a sweeping move on the final turn and went on to cover the mile and an eighth in 1:49.59.

"When I pulled him to the outside, he got by the leaders real easy," said Berry. "As a matter of fact, I made the lead sooner than I wanted and it had me a little worried."

Daly, who established his own racing stable in January after working as an assistant to trainer Ken McPeek for three years, said the Oklahoma Derby was a "pinnacle" win for him career-wise. He plans to bring a stable to Fair Grounds this winter, including Comic Truth.

Comic Truth, who is a son of Proudest Romeo, earned $95,400 for the win, which was his fifth from 15 career starts. His earnings now stand at $364,348. He races for his breeders, K.K. and Vilasini Jayaraman.

Doug O'Neill, who trains Excessivepleasure, made no excuses for the favorite other than to say the 124 pounds he carried under the allowance conditions of the race might have worked against him. Comic Truth carried 115.

The remaining order of finish was Kool Humor in fourth; Tap Tap; and Grayglen.

* On the undercard, Rockchalk Jayhawk($15.60) was declared the winner of the $35,000 Remington Green Stakes after Doc D was disqualified for interference in the stretch and placed second. The two finished a head apart at the wire, and the final time for the mile and a sixteenth, run over a yielding turf course, was 1:44.13.

Kevin Cogburn rode Rockchalk Jayhawk for trainer Donnie Von Hemel. The horse races for his breeder, Stan Wilson.

Doc D, who was the favorite, was to be ridden by Bejarano, but because of his flight complications the mount was picked up by Jason Eads.

* Attendance was 2,091 on Sunday, while handle on the 10-race program was $825,826. Last year, Oklahoma Derby Day attendance was 3,011 and handle was $902,805.