09/05/2001 12:00AM

Charles Town

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Apprentice jockey Carlos Castro is still learning English. Meanwhile, he's allowing his riding to do all his talking.

Castro, 19, moved ahead of the injured Travis Dunkelberger last week as Charles Town's leading rider at the summer meet. Castro rode his first winner in his native Puerto Rico last January and has 37 winners in 256 mounts since coming to West Virginia.

"From what I can gather, he probably knows about 5 percent of the English language," said Dave Wilson, Castro's agent. "The good thing is Carlos doesn't seem to need a lot of instructions. He rides a good race."

To help smooth the transition, Gus Gustines, a jockey valet at the track, often serves as Castro's interpreter in the paddock.

"I can talk to the trainer beforehand and relay the instructions to Gus," Wilson said.

* Betsy Berns, who has written fan guides to the National Football League and NASCAR auto racing, will be at Charles Town on Sunday to sign copies of her latest book, "An Introduction to the Thrill of Thoroughbred Racing," published by Daily Racing Form.

* Past Tence ($7), part of a two-horse entry for trainer James Casey, romped to an 11-length victory over a sloppy track in last weekend's $25,000 Bob Leavitt Memorial Stakes for 3-year-old West Virginia-breds. It was Past Tence's first win in seven starts since taking a maiden race in the mud on March 22.