10/06/2004 12:00AM

An appetizer for Classics Night


Pine Stormy, winner of the $100,000 Charles Town Dash on July 4, and Ribbon Cane, whose current four-race winning streak began with back-to-back stakes wins at Charles Town, are the headliners in a pair of Friday night sprint stakes at the West Virginia track.

The City of Charles Town Handicap, which goes as race 7 at 4 1/2 furlongs, and the City of Ranson Handicap (race 8), a seven-furlong race for fillies and mares, are each worth $50,000 and serve as an appetitizer to Saturday night's West Virginia Breeders Classics program.

Pine Stormy, a 5-year-old gelding trained by John Zimmerman, posted a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure in his only previous start at Charles Town. He has been freshened since finishing second in a high-priced optional claimer at Monmouth Park in late August.

Shippers from Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania could give Pine Stormy keen competition.

Trainer Ben Feliciano is based in Maryland, but his 5-year-old gelding Ameri Brilliance has made his last seven starts in West Virginia. He is coming off back-to-back Beyers of 103 and 100 earned at Mountaineer.

Feliciano will have to decide whether he wants to run Ameri Brilliance at Charles Town or for a bigger purse on Saturday's Maryland Million card at Pimlico, where he is cross-entered.

Spooky Mulder, an 18-time winner who has primarily raced in New York this season, would be coming back on six days' rest if he runs. Last week, he finished second for a $100,000 claiming tag at Belmont Park.

Philadelphia Park-based Ian's Rocket ran a career-best 104 Beyer when he shipped to Charles Town for the first time to easily win a four-furlong allowance last month.

In the City of Ranson, Ribbon Cane will be a standout if trainer Gary Capuano elects to run her in this spot. She's also entered on the Maryland Million program.

Ribbon Cane, a confirmed front-runner, has reeled off four wins in a row since mid-June at distances ranging from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. As the 124-pound highweight, she must concede seven to 14 pounds to her rivals.

Grace Bay, who is also cross-entered at Pimlico on Saturday, usually races at one mile or beyond, but she has been up close at the stretch call in her longer races, an indication that she may adapt well to seven furlongs. She was second to Ribbon Cane in the Summer Distaff in June.

Experts Only has finished behind Ribbon Cane twice in her last three starts and would become an instant contender if her nemesis were scratched.