05/12/2003 11:00PM

Most Feared finally wakes up


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Most Feared is back. His second-place finish at 18-1 last Saturday in the Grade 3, $500,000 Lone Star Derby was a needed confidence-builder for the colt, whose next start could come in either the Belmont Stakes on June 7, or the Grade 2, $300,000 Ohio Derby on June 21 at Thistledown. "To perform well, mentally it did a ton of good for him," said Ronny Werner, who trains Most Feared for Tom Durant. "No doubt about it, he's back on his game."

Most Feared showed promise last year at 2 when he won the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity and finished third in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. But in his first two starts this year, he failed to recapture that form, and was a longshot Saturday after having finished a distant sixth in the Grade 2 Lexington.

"He took a rib shot in that race, and it kind of knocked the air out of him and he kind of just galloped in," Werner said of the Lexington. "[After the race], we thought about turning him out, and letting him forget about everything for a while."

But then Most Feared started working well, and his connections decided to give him a shot at the Lone Star Derby. He took advantage of the opportunity. Despite being blocked in the stretch, Most Feared finished second, 1 1/2 lengths behind 1-5 favorite Dynever.

"He had been working super, and showed up," Werner said. "I was proud of him." Shane Sellers rode Most Feared for the first time Saturday, and Werner said he would like to see Sellers back on for the gelding's next start.

Back to turf for Steel Man

Steel Man, who wintered at Oaklawn Park, where there is no turf course, will get back to grass Thursday night in the featured eighth race. The two-other-than allowance at a mile on turf drew a full field of 10.

Steel Man was competitive on dirt in his last couple of starts, finishing second to Grade 3 winner Windward Passage in an allowance Feb. 2, then fifth in an optional claimer in his last start March 1.

But because all of his wins have come on turf, he benefits from the return to the surface. He would be dangerous were he to run back to the sharp trio of five-furlong works he has turned in coming up to this race. Tim Doocy has the mount for Dream Walkin Farms and Kenny Smith.

Golani is a powerful closer who will be coming late for Steel Man. He came from almost last place to win an entry-level allowance at Fair Grounds two races ago, and should benefit from the move back into a conditioned race after taking on optional claimers in his last start Feb. 24.

Golani was a Group 3 winner in France in 2001. Gary Tanaka owns the horse, who is trained by Steve Asmussen and will be ridden by Corey Lanerie.

A third horse to consider is Classic Form, a turf regular who moved to dirt last out and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure for his wire-to-wire romp in an entry-level allowance at Sam Houston.

McCarron wins pro-am in Texas

Chris McCarron, the retired Hall of Fame jockey who now works as the general manager of Santa Anita, was part of the team that won the Byron Nelson Championship Champions Pro-Am golf tournament Monday in Irving, Texas.

Also on the team was Jeff Greco, general manager of Lone Star.

McCarron was presented with an invitation to play in the tournament last year as a retirement gift from Lone Star. He was at the track to compete in the NTRA All-Star Jockey Championship, which he won two days before retiring.