Bemissed, a homebred owned by Columbia, Md., builder James Ryan, used a strong finish to win yesterday's $234,175 Selima Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Laurel Race Course and hurt Singing Susan's chances to be named horse of the year in the division.
Singing Susan, sent off at 3 to 5, finished eighth, beaten by 13 lengths.
The 3 1/4-length victory gave trainer Woody Stephens, who ran Bemissed with National Banner as an entry, his third Selima title in four years and an unmatched fifth overall in 57 Selimas. For his part, Ryan won his third Selima and with it the Selima Cup, an 18-inch high silver cup that may be worth $50,000.
This was Bemissed's first victory on dirt; she had won three races on grass.
Bemissed, who had finished third to favorite Singing Susan in the Bowie Kindergarten Stakes at seven furlongs two weeks ago, had little trouble defeating the daughter of Rollicking over 1 1/16 miles, finishing on a fast track in 1:44. The $136,005 first prize increased Bemissed's career earnings to $249,419.
"We had no idea she could run this kind of race on the dirt," Ryan said. "Woody did a real great job with her; he really speaks her language."
The race went as expected for the first three-quarters of a mile. Singing Susan, purchased last month by Ted Sabarese for $900,000 and winner of five stakes races in six tries, broke quickly, covering a half mile in 47 1/5 seconds as 20-to-1 shot Valerie's Best and 2-to-1 Bemissed followed one length back.
Singing Susan began faltering as she approached the final turn, where Bemissed, under strong urging from jockey Frank Lovato, and Valerie's Best passed her on the outside, where the track is fastest. Bemissed assumed a two-length lead midway into the stretch. Jockey Constantino Hernandez drove longshot Icy Time past No Body Else's and jockey William Passmore by a head for second.
The gross value of the race fell $7,500 after Inthethickofit scratched because of a sore knee. The Bemissed entry paid $6,20, $3.60 and $3; Icy Time $17.20 and $10, and No Body Else's $6.
"She ran like Secretariat," Lovato, 19, himself a homebred from Cheverly, said of Bemissed. "I wasn't surprised by the way she ran up to the stretch, but I didn't know how much she'd have left."
Any doubts about Singing Susan's endurance were legitimized. She had not run longer than seven furlongs in any of her starts, and it was at that point in the race that she sputtered. Singing Susan had set a track record at Aqueduct in her debut, but seven horses passed her here.
"She came out good . . . perfect," said Miguel Rivera, jockey of Singing Susan. "I tried to keep her going, but she didn't fire any more."
Bemissed also entered the race with some doubts. Although she had run one mile or more three times, all had been on turf. But she showed no preference, going the final five-sixteenths of a mile in 31 3/5.
"I didn't know how good she was," Stephens said. "I knew she was going to be tough. She proved she can run on anything." He said he will enter Bemissed in Aqueduct's Demoiselle Stakes Nov. 14 before shipping her to Florida for the winter.