06/02/2003 11:00PM

Durant and Werner split


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - One of the most successful owner-trainer teams in the Midwest split Monday when owner Tom Durant decided to move all of his horses from Ronny Werner to Jack Bruner.

In their more than eight years together, Durant and Werner won numerous stakes with such horses as Touch Tone, Awesome Humor, Wild Hits, City Street, and Most Feared.

Durant said the move was made because he prefers to keep his stable close to his home, in Texas, while Werner wanted to stay in Kentucky, where two years ago he and Durant dominated 2-year-old racing at Keeneland.

"I let him go there for too long and he liked it too much," said Durant. "There's no problem between me and Ronny. I just want to run at home. I just wanted to get back to home base.

"I'm not saying that at some point in time I won't send a horse to Ronny."

Bruner will work as a private trainer for Durant, while Werner will focus on his other clients. Bruner will oversee 65 horses, including Most Feared, who won last year's Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity.

Following his second-place finish to Dynever last out in the Lone Star Derby, Most Feared had been under brief consideration for the Belmont Stakes. His next start has yet to be determined, said Durant.

Bruner, who served as an assistant to Werner, breaking horses owned by Durant, is training for the first time since 1993, when he was based in New Mexico. He is 38.

Bruner said 32 of Durant's horses will be stabled at Lone Star Park, with the remainder based at Squaw Creek Downs, a training center near Fort Worth, Texas.

Durant and Bruner will have their first starter together Thursday night at Lone Star with Spiked Punch.