08/02/2007 11:00PM

Shippers ready to raid Charles Town


Owners' Day at Charles Town is designed to reward horsemen who have supported the local racing program by giving preference to horses who have run most often at the West Virginia oval within their last four starts. A pair of out-of-towners, however, look like the most dangerous runners in Sunday's longest stakes, at 1 1/8 miles.

Five Steps, who returned from more than 2 1/2 years on the sidelines to record a career-best Beyer Speed Figure, and Off the Glass, a dominant winner in a pair of rich starter handicaps in Maryland last season, figure prominently in race 8, the last of four $50,000 stakes sponsored by the local Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

Five Steps, a 6-year-old based at the Bowie Training Center with trainer Chris Grove, became eligible for preferred status for Sunday's race when he made his first start since November 2005 on July 4 and scored by a half-length going 6 1/2 furlongs. He was awarded a 98 Beyer, 14 points higher than the best recent figure of any other horse in Sunday's field.

Grove has done exceptionally well with the runners he has brought to Charles Town this season, winning 10 of 28 starts (36 percent).

Off the Glass, an 8-year-old who is also based at Bowie, will be making his first start since he was claimed for $15,000 by trainer Linda Albert out of a seven-furlong local race on June 13.

Last year, Off the Glass won two starter handicaps with purses of $50,000 and $47,000. He also finished fourth, beaten less than two lengths, in the 1 1/8-mile Jennings Handicap.

* The 6-year-old mare Rain Song returns to Charles Town, where she is 4 for 5 lifetime, after just missing against males in the two-furlong Rocket Man on Calder's Summit of Speed card. She heads a 4 1/2-furlong stakes for fillies and mares (race 5).

* In race 6, at seven furlongs for fillies and mares, Rupert's Prospect, a Scott Lake-trained mare who comes off two straight front-running wins at Monmouth and Delaware Park, faces Homesteader, a Maryland-based filly who has two seconds and a third in open stakes this season for high-percentage

trainer Gary Capuano. Neither horse has ever raced locally.

* Cat Genius, a multiple stakes winner of more than $500,000, will try to transfer his high early speed from turf to the main track for race 7 at 4 1/2 furlongs.