11/13/2003 1:00AM

Most Feared ready for Star of Texas


HOUSTON - Trainer Jack Bruner has seen a different side of Most Feared since the horse arrived at Sam Houston Race Park to prepare for Saturday night's $100,000 Star of Texas Stakes.

The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up is one of eight stakes on the annual Texas Champions Day program, worth a cumulative $550,000. All of the races except the $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile are restricted to Texas-breds.

The enthusiasm Most Feared has shown in his training has Bruner looking forward to the Star of Texas, which also drew defending champ Rare Cure, Agrivating General, Desert Darby, and Crook.

"Since he's gotten to Houston, he acts like he really likes the surface here," said Bruner, who trains Most Feared for owner-breeder Tom Durant. "He's breezing really well. He's even thrown a bullet work, which is kind of unusual."

Most Feared, who won the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity last year at 2, is looking for his first win of the year. He finished a big second to Dynever in the Grade 3, $500,000 Lone Star Derby in May, but was sidelined with sore feet after that race and did not run again until September.

In his return, Most Feared finished second in a seven-furlong division of the Texas Stallion Stakes. He will return to his best trip, two turns, on Saturday.

"I'm looking forward to it," Bruner said of stretching Most Feared out in distance. Kerwin Clark will ride.

The chief threat to Most Feared could be Agrivating General, who returns to the main track after placing second in two turf stakes in his last two starts. The surface switch is a non-issue, trainer Danny Pish said.

"I don't think it matters," he said.

Pish said he is pleased with how Agrivating General has prepared for the race.

"He's eating well and is carrying his weight better than he has in the past," he said. "He's always been a horse that has trained aggressively, and sometimes he would knock too much weight off of himself. So all in all, I give him the thumbs up."

Jeremy Collier has the mount.

San Jacinto: It's all Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake figures to be the shortest-priced favorite on the program when she starts in the $50,000 San Jacinto, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares. She won the San Jacinto last year and comes into this year's renewal on the heels of a win in the $35,000 Fiesta Mile, where she set a record for the distance on the Retama turf course.

Eagle Lake recorded her biggest win on turf in the Grade 3, $200,000 WinStar Distaff in May. After that race, her rider, Gerard Melancon, said he felt that the front-running Eagle Lake relaxes a little better on turf, a sentiment shared by her trainer, Cole Norman.

Richard King: 'Slama Jama' stretches

The front-running Fly Slama Jama will have to carry his speed farther than he ever has before to win the $50,000 Richard King Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile turf race. He became a top contender for this race two starts ago when he set a Retama turf-course record for 1 1/16 miles in the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame.

His regular rider, Weldon Cloninger Jr., said he believes Fly Slama Jama will get the distance if he relaxes. Cloninger noted that Fly Slama Jama had trouble in his last start, when he finished fifth in the $35,000 No Le Hace over 7 1/2 furlongs at Retama.

"He broke slow, and I had to ride him away from there, and I couldn't get him to relax," he said. "A mile and an eighth, I can settle him."

Yellow Rose: Coastalota's 2nd choice

Coastalota was being pointed to the one-mile Martanza Handicap but was forced to switch to the $50,000 Yellow Rose, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, when the Martanza was canceled because of a shortage of entries.

In her last start, Coastalota finished a close, but troubled, second to Southern Tour in the six-furlong New Braunfels at Retama.

"She's telling me she can sprint, too," said Randy Mayfield, who trains Coastalota. "She's a pretty solid mare. She gives her all wherever you run her."

Groovy: 'Rocket' vs. 'Roundabout'

There Goes Rocket, who has never been beaten on dirt, returns to that surface in the $50,000 Groovy, a seven-furlong race for 2-year-olds that also drew Roundabout Jones.

There Goes Rocket was a troubled third last out in the $100,000 El Joven on turf and has since been working well for trainer Sam David. His main-track wins include a maiden race and a division of the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes.

Bara Lass: Streaks on line for Sago

Sago will put two different win streaks on the line in the $50,000 Bara Lass, a seven-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies. She will attempt to remain undefeated in four starts, and also will try to give her trainer, Steve Asmussen, his sixth straight win in the Bara Lass.

Standing in the way of Sago, winner of a division of the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes in her last start, is Hay Lauren, a two-time stakes winner for trainer Barry Germany.

* Front Nine and Fitzroyal, who finished a neck apart in the $35,000 Longhorn last month, will renew their rivalry in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas, a six-furlong sprint that also drew talented 3-year-olds Herve and Czech Mate.