LAUREL -- Stem The Tide thwarted Brilliant Brass' try for a seventh 1992 stakes win yesterday at Laurel Race Course.
Brilliant Brass might be the best Maryland-bred runner of 1992.
But she came up a half-length short of overhauling Stem The Tide in the $50,000 Queen Isabella Handicap.
When jockey Mike Luzzi chose to ride Crowned, trainer Jimmy Murphy was left without a rider for Stem The Tide, who had won only one stakes race in her career. Murphy ended up with Charlie Fenwick III, an 18-year-old former Gilman School student who put his education "on hold" and is becoming an increasingly accomplished jockey.
Fenwick told Murphy that he sat still on the Christiana Stables' filly, letting her gallop along "on a loose rein" in mid-pack in the five-horse field.
Stem The Tide wrested the lead from Crowned at the top of the stretch and then refused to give up when Brilliant Brass made her customary late run on the outside and briefly got in front.
Murphy said that Stem The Tide "is bred to go 1 1/4 miles" and that he was not surprised when she dug back in and beat the 3-5 favorite.
She also was carrying 8 fewer pounds than Brilliant Brass, who was coming into the race off a come-from-behind victory in the Maryland Million Distaff Sprint.
"My filly is a lot more settled than she used to be," Murphy said. "Last year she was light [in weight] and erratic, but now she's calm. She had a rest during the summer, and I think it did her a lot of good."
Carlos Garcia, trainer of Brilliant Brass, blamed himself for his mare's defeat. "She had a tough race [in the Maryland Million], and I didn't train her hard enough for this race," he said. "She came up empty."
Stem The Tide set a stakes mark for the Queen Isabella Handicap, running nine furlongs in 1 minute, 49 seconds. The stakes had been discontinued at Laurel for 40 years until it was revived in 1991. Last year's renewal was won by Dixie Accent, who was timed in 1:50 3/5.
NOTES: Craig Perret, Julie Krone and Mike Smith are out-of-town jockeys who have accepted International Turf Festival mounts this weekend. Perret rides Irish colt Khoraz on Sunday in the Laurel Futurity and the Canadian filly Clever Cleo in the Selima Stakes. Krone is booked on Aurora in the Laurel Dash on Saturday along with Foxy Ferdie in the Selima and Awad in the Laurel Futurity the next day. Carlos Garcia has lined up Smith to ride Storm Flight in the Laurel Futurity and Shy Minstrel in the Selima. . . . Proud Truth, a Breeders' Cup Classic winner, is the sire of Stem The Tide. But he failed to make much of a name for himself as a stallion. He briefly stood in Maryland at Corbett Farm, but is now headquartered in Virginia. . . . Murphy has a bunch of promising young runners in his barn that might develop into stakes contenders. They are Land Grant, Avian Assembly and Part With Pride. . . . ESPN is televising the Budweiser International, All Along Stakes and Laurel Dash on a tape-delayed basis from 4 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The races are actually run on Saturday. Chris Lincoln is anchoring the broadcast and is being assisted by commentators Charlsie Cantey and Dave Johnson.