10/16/2007 11:00PM

Outcashem finally returns

EmailThree $50,000 stakes sponsored by the local Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association will kick off the biggest weekend of the season at Charles Town.

The City of Ranson Handicap, the City of Charles Town Handicap, and the Governor's Cup Handicap on Friday night precede Saturday night's West Virginia Breeders Classics program.

The most intriguing of the Friday stakes is the 4 1/2-furlong City of Charles Town, which goes as race 8. Among the 11 horses, which includes one also-eligible and two coupled entries, are a pair of 3-year-olds who have been running in graded stakes and two of the track's most accomplished short-sprint specialists.

The race will mark the return of 6-year-old gelding Outcashem, who has not raced since October 2006. A winner of 18 of 32 starts, including 10 of 18 in short sprints, Outcashem won the 2006 Charles Town Dash with a 102 Beyer Speed Figure while lugging 129 pounds. He has been working bullets at Laurel Park for his comeback and is the 126-pound highweight.

Outcashem is part of a Scott Lake-trained entry with the 6-year-old mare Rain Song. She boasts a lifetime record of 12 for 22, including 4 wins in 5 starts at Charles Town. Although winless in three stakes tries this season, Rain Song just missed against males in the two-furlong Rocket Man at Calder in late July.

Lake's pair will be challenged by the 3-year-olds Sir Five Star and Southwestern Heat, both of whom have graded stakes experience.

Sir Five Star battled for the lead at the half-mile mark of the Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga, but usually prefers to come from off the pace. He is winless in eight starts since taking the Mountain Valley at Oaklawn Park in February.

Southwestern Heat had a five-length lead after a half-mile in the Grade 3 Hirsh Jacobs at Pimlico and also contested the pace in the Gradeo3 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup at Monmouth. He most recently set the pace before drifting out late in a 5o1/2-furlong optional claimer at Laurel. Southwestern Heat is also entered in Saturday's Sonny Hine at Laurel.

One other horse who merits respect is Bettin on M J, a 5-year-old who has been first or second in his last four starts, all short sprints at Charles Town. Two of his wins have come since he was claimed by trainer Kelly Cartagena, who is winning at 37 percent at the meet.

City of Ranson: Four hard to separate

Long Time Gone, Sacred Feather, Unplugged, and Hanalei Bay appear evenly matched in the seven-furlong City of Ranson (race 7) for fillies and mares.

Hanalei Bay is the only one of the four to have won over the track. She rallied from far back to miss by less than a length in a similar stakes in early August.

Long Time Gone finished a neck behind Hanalei Bay in the last start for both horses, the 6 1/2-furlong Alma North at Timonium on Sept. 1.

Kentucky shipper Sacred Feather is only 1 for 11 at the distance, but shows a win going 6 1/2 furlongs at Ellis Park in her most recent start almost two months ago, a close second in a seven-furlong optional claimer at Churchill Downs, and a win in a seven-furlong optional claimer at Tampa Bay Downs this season.

Unplugged, cross-entered in a Saturday race at Delaware Park, has been racing on turf recently, but has either had the lead or been up close at the stretch call of her last three races on dirt.

Governor's Cup: Evenly matched duo

The 1 1/8-mile Governor's Cup (race 9) appears to be a two-horse race between Taming the Tiger and Jenkin Jones.

Taming the Tiger has made 12 of his 15 starts on grass and is winless in two starts on fast dirt tracks. But in his most recent efforts over the main track, he was second with a 96 Beyer in the $100,000 Kelso at Delaware Park while making his first start for trainer Paul McClelland on Sept. 29 and a two-length winner over a surface rated good at Belmont Park in the 2005 Lawrence Realization at 1 1/8 miles.

Jenkin Jones comes off a three-length win going a one-turn mile at Laurel Park, earning a 97 Beyer, and finished second coming from far off the pace in a restricted nine-furlong stakes locally in early August. He is, however, 0 for 5 lifetime at the distance.