LAUREL -- At 10 a.m. yesterday, with training time officially over for American horses, they departed from the turf course and the main track at Laurel Race Course.
Then Greg Magruder, the official in charge of overseaaccommodations, signaled for horses from France and England to come from behind the fences at International Village, an area used exclusively for Europeans each year for the International Turf Festival.
Two of the five graded stakes this weekend -- the $300,00Laurel Futurity for 2-year-old colts and geldings and the $300,000 Selima Stakes for 2-year-old fillies -- will be today.
Two European fillies here for the Grade III Selima and five malefor the Grade III Futurity were among those limbering up yesterday. It was their first outing, except for walking, since a Wednesday flight.
Other foreigners are here for three races tomorrow: the $300,00Grade III All Along Stakes, the $250,000 Grade III Laurel Dash and the $750,000 Grade I Budweiser International, the main event of the weekend.
Barry Weisbord, who operates Matchmaker Inc., which servicethe Festival, studied records of the 13 Futurity entrants as several of them went by.
"It's interesting that two of these horses are by [the stallionTimeless Moment," he said, referring to Timeless Times and Half a Tick, both from England by way of the Keeneland sales.
"I never expected Timeless Moment to turn into a star sire of turhorses, but he has."
Timeless Times' number of victories appears to be a record ione year for a 2-year-old. He ran in 20 races and won 16. None was in graded-stakes company, however, and the early ones were at Beverley and Windsor, both second-rate tracks
In the Best Buy Products Stakes at York, a major track, TimelesTimes was third at 6-1.
The other Timeless Moment offspring is Half A Tick, winner otwo races in England.
Among Futurity horses galloping yesterday morning, River Traffic, a chestnut colt trained by John Hammond and a French-based son of Irish River, seemed most impressive.
"He ran against some of the best," Weisbord said.
River Traffic hasn't won since beating maidens at Clairefontaine, a small track in France. Two races later, at Longchamp, France's best track, he was fourth to Hector Protector, the best 2-year-old in the country.
Despite the superiority of French horses over Americans in thpast few years, bettors at Laurel and the intertrack facility at Pimlico Race Course are expected to back Share the Glory, from Paul Mellon's Rokeby Stable.
The son of Halo, he won the Vanlandingham at one mile over yielding turf and is the likely favorite.
The difficulty with that line of reasoning is that the race was aLaurel, where the quality of turf horses isn't that good.
Another highly regarded American runner is Mr. Explosive, a soof Explosive Bid from the mare Europa.
Since Europa is the dam of Caltech, last year's winner of thBudweiser International, Mr. Explosive is half-brother to a horse capable of winning on this course.
Also in the Futurity is Island Delays, who finished a neck back oShare the Glory in the Vanlandingham.
Batshoof, an English colt, traveled three furlongs in 38 secondwith trainer Neil Drysdale watching to prepare for the 1 1/4 -mile International tomorrow.
Drysdale said the English runner, who is second in the odds tCreator tomorrow, hasn't worked much since coming to America and joining his stable. Ben Hanbury trained him in England and advised him how to prep the colt for the International.