10/31/2001 1:00AM

Charles Town


Native Heir is often involved in photo finishes. So even though he had to duel with Turbotaxman throughout the stretch of last Saturday's $50,000 Blue and Grey Stakes at Charles Town, Native Heir's half-length advantage at the wire of the seven-furlong race for West Virginia- and Virginia-breds was actually a relatively comfortable margin.

In his three previous starts, the 3-year-old Native Heir won by a neck at Pimlico and Saratoga, and was a neck short in a restricted stakes at Colonial Downs.

According to jockey Mario Pino, Native Heir likes to keep things close.

"He never really draws away when he gets to the front, but he does enough to win," Pino said. "He picked it up a notch when he switched leads" in the stretch of the Blue and Grey.

Native Heir, trained by Anthony Dutrow, has now won 7 of 11 lifetime starts.

Fueled by wagering on the World Thoroughbred Championships from Belmont Park Saturday afternoon, Charles Town handled $1,379,352, its third best day of the year. More than $860,000 was bet on Charles Town's 10-race card Saturday, a $182,000 increase over Breeders' Cup Day 2000.

Trainer Ronney Brown sent out two winners Friday, two Saturday, and three Sunday to increase his lead in the standings to 112-96 over Jeff Runco.

Jockey Travis Dunkelberger is serving a five-day suspension for a riding infraction in Maryland earlier this year. Through Tuesday, Dunkelberger had 338 wins, which put him behind only Russell Baze (354) and Ramon Dominguez (351) in the national standings.