Lakeville Miss needed 1:45 2/5 and an additional 25 minutes to win the $130,920 Selima Stakes yesterday before a crowd of 14,796 at Laurel and clinch an Eclipse Award as the nation's best 2-year-old filly.
Finishing first was comparatively easy for Lakeville Miss once jockey Ruben Hernandez guided her to the inside for the stretch run.
The brown daughter of Rainy Lake was a length in front of L'Alezane, her strongest rival, at the end of the mile and a sixteenth.
Then the delay began.
The stewards immediately flashed the inquiry sign on the infield tote board. Three minutes later Christ McCarron, the rider of Eye Of the The Storm, which finished fourth, claimed foul against the first time fillies - akeville Miss. L'Alezance and La Voyageuse.
"Hernandez came out and bumped me behind La Voyageuse." McCarron charged.
For the better part of a half-hour the stewards seriously considered the claim before determining Lakeville Miss was innocent but that La Voyageuse had been guilty of running a snake-like path through the stretch, impeding Eye Of the Storm. La Voyageuse was disqualified and placed fourth, behing Eye Of The Storm.
The stewards could have take L'Alezance out of second place, too, because of her close relationship with La Voyageuse, but decided not to.
Lakeville Miss paid $4 straight and combined with L'Alezane for a $4.60 exacta return.
Neither Hernandez nor the young winning trainer, Jose Martin, seemed to be particularly worried when the objection sign first was posted.
"It was Rudy Turcotte(on La Voyageuse) who caused all the trouble, starting up there at the top of the stretch," Hernandez declared. "When I tried to go outside, he came out on me. When I got free finally and went inside, he came in on me. I don't usually think the jockeys on a (two-horse) entry are out to beat the favorite, but these two are brothers."
Fred Colwill, the state steward, said "Hernandez started things when he tried to go outside La Voyageuse with Lakeville Miss. Chris (riding Eye Of The Storm) was right alongside him. Chris showed good race-riding by not letting Hernandez come out. So Hernandez had to drop down on the inside . . . We also thought the winner came out a little (on La Voyageuse) later on, near the finish, but there was not contact."
La Voyageuse was the culprit.
"She was trying to get out the whole way, even when she was five in front early." Rudy Turcotte conceded later. "It got worse through the stretch. At one point she was almost running sideways."
Some observers in the crowd of 14,796 though Turcotte pointed his mount toward Lakeville Miss., leaving the eighth pole, while surrendering the lead.
The victory was the fourth straight for the champion in her first start cutside New York, and increased her earnings to $239,327. Lakeville Miss is owned by Randolph Weinsier, a retired cold storage executive from Great Neck. N.Y.
"We may run her once more this season," the owner said, "in the Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 19."
That will be frosting on the championship cake. L'Alezane, the only rival with a chance of overtaking Lakeville Miss for the crown, had her last opportunity today. She was clear of all the trouble while making her stretch run and still couldn't win.
L'Alezane's only satisfaction is that the $24,684 second money in the Selima kept her ahead of Lakeville Miss with earnings of $254.390.