10/09/2003 12:00AM

Veteran Coolmars tries to show he still has it


"Back to the Future" could well be an appropriate theme for Saturday night's 17th annual West Virginia Breeders Classics at Charles Town.

An eight-race all-stakes card of races for horses bred, sired, or raised in West Virginia is highlighted by the $250,000 Classic, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up.

The sentimental favorite has to be 8-year-old gelding Coolmars, trained by Jeff Runco. Though winless and no better than fourth in four starts this year, Coolmars is back for his fourth straight appearance in the Classic, a race he won in 2000 with a career-best 88 Beyer Speed Figure.

In his bid to repeat in 2001, Coolmars again posted an 88 Beyer, but had to settle for second behind Confucius Say. Last season, running over a wet surface, on which he has won only 1 of 14 starts, Coolmars was beaten by Confucius Say again, this time finishing a distant fourth.

This year's Classic field has come up relatively soft. If Coolmars, returning from a layoff of nearly two months, can run back to the 84 Beyer he earned in his only nine-furlong race this year, he has a big shot to capture the Classic for a second time.

Based on current form, 4-year-old colts Cape Power and Adams Tribe are the logical favorites. They finished one-two in the local prep for the Classic, the seven-furlong Robert Hilton Memorial on Sept. 13.

Cape Power has been first or second in 9 of 17 starts - all at Charles Town - but is questionable at nine furlongs, where he is 0 for 3, including a loss by nearly 18 lengths in July.

Adams Tribe, first or second in 15 of 21 starts at Charles Town but 0 for 7 this year, finished eighth when he tried 1 1/8 miles in July, but last year earned an 85 Beyer for a fourth-place finish at the distance in the mud.

The second richest race on the program, the $150,000 BB&T Cavada West Virginia for fillies and mares at seven furlongs, boils down to a showdown between 3-year-old Fancy Buckles and the Karen Duke-trained entry of Shesanothergrump and Sweet Annuity.

Fancy Buckles has won 6 of 7 starts this year, including three consecutive restricted stakes dating back to June. Her best Beyer at the distance, a 76, would be sufficient to win Saturday's race.

The 4-year-old Shesanothergrump and 6-year-old mare Sweet Annuity ran one-two, separated by a neck, in the seven-furlong prep for this stakes on Sept. 13.

Each of the six other stakes, ranging in distance from 4 1/2 to 7 furlongs, are worth $75,000.