LAUREL -- Ken de Saron and Smiling And Dancin, the winners of Maryland's premier 2-year-old events, made their fondness for soft turf abundantly clear when running away with their respective races, the Selima Stakes and Laurel Futurity, yesterday.
Ken de Saron, a maiden filly who had finished third in France in her only prior start, won the Selima by 9 3/4 lengths after surging to the lead on the backstretch rail. Eric Legrix, one of France's top jockeys of 1991, was aboard.
Maurice Zilber, the legendary French trainer, said he was "very, very confident" of Ken de Saron's chances. He then revealed she would go to Churchill Downs for the the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.
"It will be interesting to have a filly that's never been on dirt go there," said Zilber. "That's if she gets in [has sufficient Breeders' Cup points]."
The Selima, the first turf race of the day, was a gauge for softness of the turf. When Ken de Saron won the 1 1/16-mile race in a dawdling 1 minute, 49 4/5 seconds -- and by so many lengths -- it was quite evident the course was extremely soft.
About an hour later, Smiling And Dancin was nearly as dominant, drawing off from favored Free At Last to win by 5 1/2 lengths. Richard Migliore rode the colt to a 1:48 3/5 clocking.
"He was running well on the backside, strong on the bit," said Migliore. "He went willingly around the [final] turn. Through the lane, he was looking around, and I got into him a little so he'd keep paying attention. He was very professional. I'm proud of him."
Trainer Steve DiMauro said Smiling And Dancin, a non-Breeders' Cup nominee, would not be supplemented for $120,000 to the Juvenile.
The balance of the Turf Festival goes today, but the series finale, the All Along Stakes, may be run without its main attraction.
Miss Josh is the early favorite in the All Along, named for the filly winner of the 1983 International, but "if it were [yesterday], I wouldn't run her," said trainer Barclay Tagg, citing the softness. Tagg said a decision would be made today on the mare's status.
The Laurel Dash, the only Festival race which failed to attract a European entrant, precedes the All Along. The Dash is the first race as short as six furlongs in four years for likely favorite Double Booked, said trainer Linda Rice. Double Booked won five stakes earlier this year in longer races.
NOTES: After Sweet Roberta won the Selima by 10 lengths 2 years ago, she finished second in the Breeders' Cup as second choice. . . . Craig Perret took off his scheduled mounts on Misako Togo (Selima) and Jolie's Halo (International) yesterday, telling a Laurel official his chronically bad back had flared up. . . . Jockey Allen Stacy is leaving Laurel. Business had slumped in recent months for Stacy, the 1986 Eclipse Award winner as the nation's top apprentice. He departs for the Kentucky circuit where racing soon shifts to Churchill Downs. . . . A field of 11 goes in the $1,041,250 Rothman's International today at Woodbine, near Toronto. No Laurel/Pimlico simulcast. . . . Twilight Agenda won the Meadowlands Cup Friday night by a neck over favored Scan, with Sea Cadet another 1 1/2 lengths back in third. Runaway Stream was sixth.