11/12/2003 12:00AM

A pair of colts highlight Clark's second act


HOUSTON - Jockey Kerwin Clark's career resurgence could shift into overdrive this weekend when he rides Kool Humor in Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park and Most Feared in Saturday night's $100,000 Star of Texas at Sam Houston Race Park.

The colts are two of the region's best 3-year-olds, and both are owned by Tom Durant and trained by Jack Bruner. Clark was brought on as stable rider for Durant in August, and he is having the kind of success he experienced years ago, when he annually ranked among the leading riders in Chicago.

"I'm happier right now than I've been in probably the last 15 years," said Clark, 44.

That is in part because of fast horses. Kool Humor could be the second choice behind Excessivepleasure in the Oklahoma Derby. A winner of 4 of 10 starts, he comes into the race on the heels of a fourth-place finish to Ten Most Wanted in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby on Sept. 20.

Kool Humor was found to have a foot abscess after the race, but he has since recovered and has been working well at his Sam Houston base. He drilled four furlongs in 47.20 seconds last Saturday.

"I worked him, and he worked super," said Clark, who is third in the standings at Sam Houston. "I think if he runs his race, he'll be very, very tough to beat."

Kool Humor has a lot of natural speed, just like his chief Oklahoma Derby rival, Excessivepleasure. He used front-running tactics to win the $100,000 Alysheba over seven furlongs and the $50,000 Prelude at a 1 1/16 miles. But he also came from off the pace to win a one-mile allowance this past summer, and he is rateable, said Clark.

"He's kind," he said. "Actually, I think I could probably do whatever I wanted to do with him. He's got natural speed, but you can rate him at the same time without having to fight him, which is great, especially going a mile and an eighth. In the Super Derby, I had him just loping on the front end through an opening quarter in 24 [seconds] and a half in 49."

Most Feared is Kool Humor's opposite in that he likes to come from off the pace. He will return to racing around two turns in the Star of Texas, the featured race for older horses on Texas Champions Day. The last time Most Feared routed was two races ago, when he was a troubled second to Dynever in the Grade 3, $500,000 Lone Star Derby in May.

Dynever went on to finish third in the Breeders' Cup Classic, while Most Feared was given some time off after the Lone Star Derby. He returned in September and finished second in a seven-furlong division of the Texas Stallion Stakes.

"I think Most Feared is training better than he ever has," said Clark. "At least since I've been working with the horse, this is the best he's ever been."

Last year, Most Feared won the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington.

Clark was a regular in Chicago for 15 years, and among the top horses he rode was Western Playboy, an Illinois-bred whom he guided to victory in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby in 1989. In subsequent years, Clark also served as the work rider for Unbridled, then went to work as a contract rider in Saudi Arabia. Clark came home after 3 1/2 years and decided to retire in 1998.

But he missed racing, and returned to the saddle in 2001. This past summer, a friend put him in contact with Durant.

"He's a great asset to us," said Bruner. "He's a well-seasoned rider. He's knowledgeable and he's very patient. There's just not a horse he doesn't get along with."

Clark has other top mounts on Texas Champions Day. He will ride Front Nine in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas and Royal Pet in the $50,000 Bara Lass.

Fields drawn for Texas Champions Day

Sam Houston drew the fields for its 10-race Texas Champions Day program on Wednesday. There were to be nine stakes on the card, but one, the $75,000 Martanza for statebreds, was canceled after drawing just five fillies and mares.

Coastalota, who would have been a prohibitive favorite in the race, moved over to the $50,000 Yellow Rose.

The Yellow Rose is around one turn; the Martanza was to be run around two.

The richest race on the card is the $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile, an open-company race for 2-year-olds, which drew a field of six headed by Korbyn Gold. In his last start, he finished second in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs.

The remaining seven stakes are for horses bred in Texas. Sam Houston plans to offer early wagering on the entire card on Friday. First post for Texas Champions Day is 6 p.m. Saturday.

Excessivepleasure arrives at Remington

Excessivepleasure was bedded down at Remington by 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday. He flew into the track from his Hollywood Park base, and will gallop into the race, said his trainer, Doug O'Neill.

Excessivepleasure will head a field that grew to six on Wednesday with the commitment of Tap Tap. Trained by Donnie Von Hemel, Tap Tap will be ridden by Kevin Cogburn.