11/07/2001 12:00AM

The outside story (beyond inside speed)

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According to conventional handicapping theory, inside speed is the path to the winner's circle at a track that's less than a one-mile oval like Charles Town.

Recently, however, horses that have gone wide have fared best, especially in two-turn races, which at Charles Town are contested at 6 1/2 and seven furlongs.

Consider these facts, gleaned from the official charts of last week's races.

- The winners in the first three races Wednesday and the last four Thursday raced at least four wide at some point in the race.

- Four consecutive two-turn races on the Friday night card were won by horses that raced at least five wide the entire backstretch. Apprentice jockey Carlos Castro won four races on the program and guided Thank the Press so wide on the backstretch, the 3-year-old gelding ran out of the picture on the head-on replay. Ross Cove and jockey Raymond Torres Jr. followed a similar path.

- In 28 races at 6 1/2 furlongs or longer, only Hot Dancin and All for One went wire-to-wire. All for One raced well off the rail when he cleared to the lead early.

- Eight favorites broke from the rail at 4 1/2 furlongs, but only Love's Best Bet ($6.60) - who angled six wide on the turn - managed to win. Four rail favorites finished out of the money.

Anthony Mawing, who led all jockeys with seven wins last week, was an exception to the rule when he guided Future Focus to a front-end win from the rail in a maiden race on Sunday.

The outside bias also did not slow down Baby Shark, who captured a $19,500 allowance race contested at 4 1/2 furlongs by 7 1/4 lengths Sunday after breaking from post 2.