Temper Time won yesterday's $100,000 Northern Dancer Stakes at Laurel Race Course, but the horse who might have had the greatest impact never set foot on the racetrack.

Baron de Vaux was a monstrous favorite in the Northern Dancer, at least until 4:30 p.m. At that time, about 75 minutes before the race, the accomplished 3-year-old was announced withdrawn, breathing new hope into the stables of his eight opponents.

"With {Baron de Vaux} in there, it looked like we were running for second money," said Reggie Vardon, the trainer of Temper Time.

According to the racing secretary's office, an assistant to trainer Charlie Peoples called in the scratch. (A horse can be withdrawn, without reason, up to 45 minutes before a stakes race.) Peoples has been reluctant to race Baron de Vaux on muddy racetracks, and that apparently was the reason for the colt's removal. He did arrive at Laurel in plenty of time to race.

Neither Peoples nor owner Bayard Sharp was present, both suffering health problems.

The Northern Dancer lost possibly the top Maryland-bred 3-year-old of 1990 and by far its richest entrant at $620,570. Temper Time and Real Tough were the only others above $100,000, and just barely.

Baron de Vaux had figured to press the pace, but his withdrawal did not change Vardon's approach. "We planned to sit back and make one run," he said, and Temper Time did just that.

As Real Tough and former claimer Silver Vein ran side by side on the lead, Temper Time was about five lengths back in fourth place nearing the far turn. He advanced on the outside as most of the field became bunched well into the turn, about four lengths separating the first six.

Real Tough, Silver Vein and Mahvelous Matt struggled for the lead after hitting the stretch, but by then Temper Time was surging past them under Edgar Prado. Reputed Testamony followed Temper Time's roundabout approach and finished strongly, but he ended up two lengths behind the winner. Manlove, the favorite who also swung wide, rallied to take third from Mahvelous Matt.

Temper Time had mud all over him by the time he finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:49 3/5. He made $60,000 with the second victory of his career, both coming in Maryland-bred stakes races.

Vardon, who trains privately for Sam Morrell -- spending much of the year at Finger Lakes in upstate New York -- did not seem deluded by the conquest. "He's a nice, useful horse who can run in open company and win some allowance races," he said of Temper Time. "But he's going to have to improve to win open stakes races."

It was the only triumph of the day for Prado, who had won nine races in 13 tries the previous two days to widen his lead this meeting. Smelly Set for Return

Smelly, one of Maryland's top 3-year-olds this spring before being slowed by knee problems, is scheduled to make his first start since April in a minor stakes race today at Philadelphia Park. His rivals in the six-furlong race for older horses include Deputy Shaw and Marylander Bright Greek. . . .

Chris McCarron will ride Classic Fame in the $750,000 Budweiser International Oct. 21, trainer Gary Jones said yesterday. . . . LeRoy Jolley, who trains the nation's best 2-year-old filly in Meadow Star, will send a stablemate of hers to Laurel for the $300,000 Selima Stakes. Majesty's Bloom is coming off a nine-length allowance victory at the Meadowlands. . . . Ten Keys worked seven furlongs in 1:29 3/5 yesterday morning at Bowie.