Boniface masters Laurel, too Irish Forever rallies to win Selima Stakes


Because of an editing error in yesterday's editions, horse breeders Nick and Elaine Bassford were identified incorrectly as owners of Heavenly Prize, who won the Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park Saturday.

The Sun regrets the error.

Irish Forever delivered.

The little chestnut filly, bought at the Timonium Fairgrounds for a bargain price in May, came from next-to-last in the eight-horse field and won the $145,400 Selima Stakes yesterday with authority over a yeilding turf course.

It was the biggest career victory at Laurel Race Course for trainer Billy Boniface, whose greatest moments in the state have occurred at Pimlico. He had been second in the Laurel Futurity with 1983 Preakness winner Deputed Testamony and second in the Selima with Point Spread, but had not previously won one of the track's graded stakes.

Although the Selima in recent years has dropped to Grade III status, it is still one of Maryland's oldest and most prestigious races and was run for the 68th time yesterday.

"It's a thrill and it came for great owners," Boniface said, referring to Roger and Jackie Schipke, who purchased Irish Forever for $8,500 and have now seen her win four of five career starts and earn $134,360.

Boniface had predicted victory before the race and now will rest the filly until she starts a Florida campaign in a couple of months.

A chilly jockey Edgar Prado sat waiting for the speed over the deep course to fade. Front-runner Tee Kay actually held on well, but was overpowered by the determined late rush of the Boniface-trained filly.

Although bred by Robert Sangster's Swettenham Stud and sired by French champion, Irish River, the horse, because of her small size and a blemish (a splint on one of her forelegs), was sold for a low price at public auction.

Irish Forever went off the second choice behind the favored New York invader, Chelsey Flower, who showed speed, but stopped and finished last.

Makadir was third, followed by Seymour Cohen's Proud Angela. Cohen, who is from Miami, won the race last year with the maiden, Booly, but had to settle for fourth place (worth $8,724) this year with a filly he bought for $12,000 in April. "At least, she paid for the plane trip," he said.

Prado was shut out of the Turf Festival races last year after scoring his biggest career victory in the 1991 Washington International on Leariva. He started this year's Festival on a winning note in the Selima, rides Thrilla in Manila today in the Laurel Futurity and some of his recent mounts -- Mz. Zill Bear, Logan's Mist and Square Cut -- are entered this coming weekend in the main Turf Festival races.

NOTES: Trainer Shug McGaughey, who won five races including four stakes on yesterday's Super Saturday II card at Belmont Park, could saddle the favorite in the Washington D.C. International Mile at Laurel on Saturday. McGaughey is expected to start Furiously. . . . Root Boy, who fractured two sesamoids last weekend in the Maryland Million Classic, is making excellent progress at the New Bolton equine hospital in Kennett Square, Pa. . . . Owner Richie Blue hopes the horse can start a stud career this spring. . . . Laurel/Pimlico track operator Joe De Francis is holding a fund-raiser for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Mary Sue Terry in Baltimore on Tuesday night at the Center Club. . . . Pimlico-based Valley Crossing finished fourth in the Grade I Meadowlands Cup on Friday night behind Marquetry, Michelle Can Pass and Northern Trend. . . . Local breeders Nick and Elaine Bassford's Heavenly Prize, from the first crop of Kentucky stallion Seeking the Gold, won the Frizette Stakes at Belmont yesterday. The Bassfords' 1992 Maryland-bred Horse of the Year, Brilliant Brass, is in foal to Seeking the Gold on a February cover. . . . What a difference a week makes. Jockey Blythe Miller, who fell with Dum Crambo in the Maryland Million Steeplechase last weekend at Laurel, won the $250,000 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase yesterday at Belmont with Lonesome Glory.

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