A crowd of 10,633 witnessed the extremes of throughbred desire yesterday at Laurel Race Course.

Due North, overtaken by favored Entertain at the top of the stretch, showed his will to win by fighting back to defeat Entertain by a nose in the $54,600 Native Dancer Handicap. He ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49 3/5.

Nine races earlier, a $5,000 claiming filly named Wuxi showed her indifference toward racing by refusing to break from the gate. It was the fourth straight race in which she hesitated or dwelt at the start.

Due North won $35,490 for John Merryman of Sparks, Md.; Wuxi was banned indefinitely from racing in Maryland.

With wind gusts up to 32 mph, jockey Mike Hunter guided Due North to his second stakes victory this Laurel meet in eventful fashion. Immediately after Due North put away front-running Ice Hawk around the far turn, Entertain and jockey Vince Bracciale Jr. moved past him three-wide.

With Bracciale urging his mount right-handed, Entertain led by a quarter-length; Hunter, by contrast, tapped Due North only briefly, then put away his stick, lowered his head, and drove the gelding with his arms.

"When the wind is like that, you don't want to be waving your arms all that much," said Hunter, who ranks seventh in victories at Laurel. "You've just got to try to keep your horse straight, and not using the whip helps keep you more aerodynamic."

With Hunter low in the saddle, Due North began to edge past Entertain near the half-furlong pole. He led by a head approaching the wire when Hunter nearly negated his brilliant ride by standing up three strides before the wire. "I think the shadow of the pole {at the finish line} threw me off; I'm just thankful it didn't cost me," said Hunter.

Wuxi's stubbornness cost young apprentice Kelly Lynn Deiter, who lost the only horse she'd ridden the entire meeting. Dieter was trying everything to get the 4-year-old bay filly out of the starting gate long after her seven rivals had departed. Finally, a member of the gate crew tugged Wuxi out of her stall, and she galloped on with last place secured.

"It's disappointing, especially when you know the horse has a lot of ability," said Deiter. "I think she's just scared of the other horses. In the mornings, she breaks beautifully and runs like crazy."

Wuxi has won two races and $7,290 in 16 starts for Deiter's father, Urban Deiter, and trainer Wayne Bailey.

"We've tried everything," jockey Deiter said. "Blinkers on, blinkers off, bending her tail, using different bits; in the afternoons, nothing seems to work."

"I'm trying to pick up mounts, and things like this make it a little more difficult."

In the 10th race, for high-priced claiming horses, Smooth Horizon equaled Laurel's 6 1/2-furlong record with a neck victory over Head Out in 1:16. The 3-year-old Finder's Choice set the mark on Jan. 10.