07/01/2007 11:00PM

Charles Town Dash full of speed

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Confucius Say, Crafty Schemer, and P. Kerney - the three fastest horses coming into Wednesday's Charles Town Dash Invitational Handicap - all do their best running on the lead. Handicappers must decide whether one horse is simply quicker than the others and can get an uncontested lead, or if they are destined to burn each other out.

There is a special holiday post time of 1 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday.

Previously contested at 4 1/2 furlongs, the $100,000 Charles Town Dash has been lengthened to seven furlongs, a distance that appears ideal for both Confucius Say and P. Kerney.

The 9-year-old Confucius Say is one of the most popular horses ever to race at Charles Town, where he has recorded 13 of his 15 career wins and won $489,735. In races at either 6o1/2 or seven furlongs the past two seasons, Confucius Say has a record of 2-1-1 in 4 starts.

The question with Confucius Say is whether weight will stop him. He is assigned 125 pounds, three pounds higher than he has ever carried in his 33-race career.

P. Kerney, a 6-year-old based in Maryland with trainer Mike Trombetta, is 4-1-1 in 6 starts going seven furlongs since March 2006. Three times during that span, he has run the first half-mile in less than 46 seconds, including a blazing 43.20 fraction at Philadelphia Park in May 2006.

If anyone is likely to get a clear early lead, it's P. Kerney.

In comparison, Confucius Say's best half-mile fraction in a longer sprint, 45.80 seconds, came in his last start, an easy win over allowance rivals. More typical, however, is the 47.40 half-mile Confucius Say posted en route to winning last fall's Onion Juice on West Virginia Breeders Classic Night.

The third speedster, 8-year-old Crafty Schemer, appears better in shorter sprints. His last win going seven furlongs came in December 2005 at Laurel Park.