10/29/2003 1:00AM

Valid Video to fight again


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Dennis Manning, the trainer of Valid Video, returned from his first trip to California with mixed feelings.

Manning appreciated the hospitality of the Breeders' Cup staff at Santa Anita. But he said that an injury to Valid Video's left stifle, suffered in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, denied the 3-year-old gelding the opportunity to show his talent.

"It was very disappointing because the horse had been running well all year," Manning said. "It's something you don't want to have happen when you go all the way to California. At least the horse is in one piece and he'll live to fight another day."

The winner of the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga, Valid Video was third betting choice in the Sprint. Valid Video vied for early position before fading to last in the 13-horse field.

Manning isn't sure when the injury occurred.

"It had to have happened leaving the gate or it could have happened going to the three-eighths pole when he switched leads," Manning said. "I haven't had an opportunity to look at the replay, but people told me it looked like he took a bad step and threw his head in the air on the turn."

Valid Video, who has returned to Manning's barn at Monmouth Park, will ship to Florida Saturday to continue his recuperation.

Manning said he hopes to have Valid Video back in peak condition for the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 24 at Gulfstream Park.

For Manning, a native New Englander, the trip West was an experience that he will not likely repeat soon. The intense heat and the rampaging brush fires had Manning longing for home.

"I can only tell you one thing," he said. "I love New York. I'll stay on the East Coast."

Halloween at the Big M

The Big M will be into the spirit of Halloween on Friday night. It starts with the Grey Ghost Handicap, a Halloween tradition of offering a starter handicap restricted to gray or roan horses.

The sight of pale runners competing under the lights creates a spectral image on the night when goblins run amok. A little sinister fog would be the perfect accompaniment.

Also on the card is the $40,000 Witches' Brew Stakes for fillies and mares at five furlongs on the turf.

Tangier Sound didn't scare away the competition in the full field of 12 with four alternates, but she must be respected.

Trained by Jim Ryerson, Tangier Sound ran in the Clark County Stakes at Keeneland in her last race. The 4-year-old filly got caught in a speed duel and finished last.

"It set up perfectly for closers," Ryerson said. "I'm hoping we can just throw that race out and have her return to the form she showed earlier in the year at Monmouth."

Tangier County won the Klassy Briefcase Stakes at Monmouth and ran second in two other overnight stakes, all at the five-furlong distance of the Witches' Brew.