The bettors went to Logan's Mist and Star Minister, but the majority of the purse went to Mz. Zill Bear.
In a notable upset, the 25-1 shot lurked just off the lead, cleared the pace-setting Red Ice, then out-dueled Star Minister by a neck to win the $75,000 Martha Washington Handicap, the opening-day feature at Laurel yesterday.
Logan's Mist, the 6-5 favorite, was last in a field of 10 going 1 1/8 miles on turf.
"I don't know what happened," said Charles Fenwick III, Logan's Mist's rider. "She just threw in a bad one. Down the back side, I had no horse."
It was the second stakes victory for apprentice jockey Steve Hamilton, who scored his first in the Maryland Sprint on Maryland Million day Sept. 26.
Hamilton, who loses his 5-pound bug allowance Oct. 26, was competing for the first time since a seven-day suspension for careless riding.
Mz. Zill Bear has won three times in four starts with Hamilton aboard, all in distance races on the turf.
In the defeat (a sixth against many of the same horses), Mz. Zill Bear "was very wide and lost too much ground," according to trainer Ron Cartwright. "But he [Hamilton] was fine on her. He suits her."
Hamilton said the race set up nicely for his mount. Red Ice, running six days after giving way in top allowance company at Belmont Park, galloped for the lead with Star Minister in pursuit.
Star Minister took over nearing the stretch, but Mz. Zill Bear was right behind.
"Red Ice was stopping a little in front of us, so I thought there might be a little trouble," said Hamilton. "But then I could see it opening up."
Owned by Bill and Phyllis Dixon of Mea Culpa Stables, Mz. Zill Bear is one of three horses they sent to France to work under trainer Maurice Zilber, for whom the filly is named.
Zilber has trained four International winners and will return this year with entries in two of the companion stakes during the International weekend.
16 for International
Sixteen horses remained in the $750,000 Budweiser International field yesterday when pre-entries were drawn.
The list included eight from France, most prominently Leariva, the 1991 winner; Sillery, the runner-up last year; and Arcangues, who beat Arazi two starts ago.
A Russian horse, Rezon, also is among the remaining invitees.
The American hopes include late nominee Senor Tomas, winner of the Louisiana Super Derby, and Solar Splendor, victor in the Man O' War Stakes.
The French had a commanding presence among the foreign contingents in the other stakes on International weekend with 14 other pre-entries.