12/04/2003 12:00AM

Charles Town: St. Nick for sprinters

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Two of the sharpest 2-year-olds on the grounds will meet for the first time in Saturday's $70,000 St. Nick Stakes at Charles Town.

Take the Plunge, who has won his last two starts in restricted stakes by a combined margin of 19 1/2 lengths, and Red Velvet Cake, a 9 1/2-length winner of the Tri-State Futurity in his last start, are both front-runners. They will break alongside each other in posts 1 and 2 in the seven-furlong St. Nick.

The horse with the best last-out Beyer, however, is Maryland shipper Acclimate. He showed good speed in the Grade 3 Laurel Futurity before weakening to finish fourth behind the highly regarded Tapit. That effort was still good enough for an 86 Beyer, more than 10 points higher than either Take the Plunge (72) or Red Velvet Cake (65). Acclimate cuts back in distance after racing 1 1/16 miles in his last four starts.