10/04/2005 11:00PM

Gill and Lake hold keys to two stakes


Owner Michael Gill and trainer Scott Lake each has a potent entry for one of the two $50,000 sprint stakes on Friday night's card at Charles Town.

Thermal Ablasion and City Fire, a pair of mares owned by Gill with 21 lifetime victories between them, are both serious contenders in the seven-furlong HBPA City of Ranson Handicap, which goes as race 9.

Lake is scheduled to ship in Outcashem, unbeaten in seven starts since he was claimed for $25,000 in March, and 7-year-old millionaire Shake You Down for the 4 1/2-furlong HBPA City of Charles Town Handicap (race 4).

In the filly and mare feature, the 6-year-old Thermal Ablasion, trained by Tim Hooper, is the stronger half of Gill's entry. In her last three starts, Thermal Ablasion won an overnight stakes at Delaware Park, was beaten only 2 1/4 lengths in the $75,000 Steve Van Buren Handicap at Philadelphia Park, and easily won a seven-furlong allowance at Charles Town.

City Fire, second in last year's City of Ranson, was in better form earlier in the season, when she was second in three consecutive starts, including the $100,000 Obeah Handicap at Delaware. She flashed speed and stopped in her last two races, but those were going longer, and she may be better shortening to seven furlongs.

Fleet Ballado, a winner in 3 of her last 4 starts, also cuts back in distance slightly. She carries seven pounds less, at 115, than she did winning at Laurel in her most recent race.

Miss Hamma finished 5 1/4 lengths behind Thermal Ablasion last time out, but was only a half-length behind her when both raced in the 2004 running of the City of Ranson.

In the 4 1/2-furlong feature for males, either Outcashem or Shake You Down will be a short price. Travis Dunkelberger is named on both horses, so only one is likely to start.

Outcashem, 6 for 13 at the distance, won a similar stakes at Charles Town in late July and took the West Virginia Chairman's Cup at Mountaineer in mid-August.

At 7, Shake You Down's career appeared as if it might be over when he lost back-to-back races at Pimlico and Delaware earlier this year. But given two months off, he rebounded to easily defeat allowance runners going 4 1/2 furlongs at Charles Town on Labor Day.

Other contenders include Bisoftu, who has won four times while rising in class since he was claimed for $5,000 by trainer David Vance in February, and Black Raptor, an easy winner of his last three races, all at 4 1/2 furlongs.