Roman Prose took an eloquent passage through the stretch to give England a surprise victory in the Laurel Dash yesterday. The tale barely told, Foresta then beat Maryland-based Miss Josh by a nod of the head to win the Selima Stakes, the second American triumph of the five-race International Turf Festival that concluded at Laurel Race Course.

Roman Prose rallied from last place to win the $250,000 Dash with an unexpected surge -- even to trainer Jonathan Pease -- and generated the largest win mutuel of the day at $80.60. The seldom-raced 5-year-old was guided by Lanfrancco Dettori, a British jockey who never had ridden for Pease. It was Dettori's second victory in the United States, and the first for England in this Turf Festival.

"We're stabled in France," Pease said, "but we're very English."

Ron's Victory, a French colt, was determined the horse to beat at 11-10. He advanced from mid-pack on the outside and surged past Brave Adventure to take command shortly into the lane.

Ron's Victory met no resistance until Roman Prose got untracked after straightening for home with tremendous acceleration. He roared past eight others and pulled ahead of Ron's Victory a couple of strides from the wire to win by a neck. My Frenchman, a Maryland stakes winner, held third.

"I didn't think he'd beat Ron's Victory," Pease said. "Frankly, he showed me something. He's got broken knees, but he's quite fast."

Roman Prose brought no great expectations after he was injured as a youngster. In an effort to salvage the horse's racing career, owner Henry Seymour had him gelded and sent to pasture.

With yesterday's six-furlong run in 1:09 4/5, Roman Prose made Seymour and his partners $150,000 richer -- not including tickets they cashed -- which surpassed the steed's earnings from 12 previous starts.

Trainer Barclay Tagg never had won a race of $300,000, a fact that would have changed had the Selima been one stride shorter than 1 1/8 miles. His best grass-running filly, Miss Josh, led through the stretch until Foresta caught her at the wire and got the benefit of a head-bob.

The decision cost jockey Laffit Pincay his second major win of the day following Fly Till Dawn's uprising in the Budweiser International. "I thought I was going to win it," he said.

Miss Josh took the lead from Iceycindy leaving the far turn and by midstretch had a two-length advantage over Foresta, who had been close throughout. Foresta wasn't gaining as she led with her left leg and faced outward, but once she switched to the right lead she closed in rapidly. So intense was Angel Cordero that he rode all the way to the secondary wire -- a sixteenth of a mile past the finish -- just to be sure he didn't stop too soon.

"I didn't even know which wire we were riding {to}, I was so desperate to get there," he said.

Timed in 1:49 2/5 over firm footing, the front two finished more than a lenth ahead of Vijaya, a 3-year-old French filly. Houseproud, the co-favorite from France, was fourth.

Trainer Tom Bohannan was unable to explain Foresta's penchant for tight finishes; victorious in four of her last six races, the dark filly has neither won nor lost by more than a half-length over that period. The $180,000 payday moved her close to $500,000 overall.

For Bonner Farm, the owner of Miss Josh, inches shy meant $120,000 less. "I wasn't sure when they hit the wire," Tagg said, "but coming down the lane I really thought we had it."