BALTIMORE, SEPT. 8 -- Green Book gave Hay Halo a lesson in losing today in the $79,400 Northern Dancer Stakes, the showcase of the opening day of Pimlico's fall meeting.

Hay Halo, a multiple stakes winner and Maryland's champion 2-year-old last year, was made the 3-to-5 favorite by the rainy-day crowd of 7,012. But he never challenged, as Green Book and jockey Vince Bracciale Jr. ran down Ringing -- who nearly stole the race -- in the sloppy stretch to win by a neck. Hay Halo, on the rail most of the way, was a well-beaten third.

Ringing (9 to 1), who had made six of his last seven starts on turf for trainer Ron Alfano, made a splash in the mud today. He was the only speed horse among the field of five, and jockey Mario Pino made the most of it.

"He made the lead easy, and I just wanted to keep him going," Pino said. "Actually, he kind of surprised me."

Ringing opened nearly a three-length lead into the far turn of the 1 1/8-mile race, with Mystic Wars and Green Book battling for second. Mystic Wars fell back, and Green Book accelerated on the outside to draw abreast of Ringing into the stretch; but it wasn't until the sixteenth pole that he secured the lead.

The son of Golden Act trained by John Hicks won in 1:52, earning $51,610 for Fourbros Stables and paying $6.60.

"I took him out{side} to try to keep as much of the {mud} out of his face as I could," Bracciale said. "I wanted to be in a position where, if Hay Halo moved, I could move with him."

That never materialized. Hay Halo, running unencumbered in fourth position, never fired, refuting trainer Dick Small's claim Monday that the horse was ready to go a distance.

"I thought he was a cinch today," said jockey Gregg McCarron, who rode Hay Halo to a fifth-place finish in Saratoga's Jim Dandy Stakes last month. "But halfway around the first turn, I knew I was in trouble. When I straightened up on the backside, he wasn't really running; he was kind of jumping up and down. So I thought I would drop him to the fence . . . . But even when I did that, he didn't respond."

Green Book's victory gave him $213,014 in career earnings and further established him as one of Maryland's best 3-year-olds.

Because Maryland prohibits any triple wagering on races with fewer than seven starters, today's double-triple was canceled when 12 of the 18 entrants scratched.