Of the 354 horses on the early-nomination list for this year's Triple Crown, Unbridled's Song was considered the leader.
The Kentucky Derby future book favorite was the Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion during a light 2-year-old campaign.
But yesterday's $75,000, Grade II Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park showed that he is not invincible.
The son of 1990 Derby winner Unbridled ran well in his first race since the Juvenile last October, but was beaten by a half-length by Appealing Skier in what amounted to a tuneup for the Fountain of Youth Stakes in three weeks.
Appealing Skier, the Laurel Futurity winner last fall, was impressive over seven furlongs while running on Lasix for the first time after fading to 12th in the Juvenile.
The colt is owned by New Farm and trained by Ben Perkins Sr., familiar names to Maryland racing fans.
The Fountain Of Youth is run at 1 1/16 miles, considered a more favorable distance to Unbridled's Song.
Edward Seigenfeld, executive vice president of Triple Crown Productions, said the list "covers the major stakes winners of 1995 in the United States and offers fine, competitive runners from overseas [six from Europe, one from Japan]."
A late nominating period closes March 30.
D. Wayne Lukas, who has won the last five Triple Crown races, leads the trainers' nominating list with 17, and Jan, Mace and Samantha Siegel lead the owners with seven nominees.
Among the Maryland-breds nominated were Favorable Ruling, bred at Northview Stallion Station and the Maryland Juvenile champion, and Irish Cloud, third in that race.
The Ruler's Sister reigns
A bold move entering the straightaway carried The Ruler's Sister to an easy victory yesterday in the $51,625 Landaura Stakes at Laurel Park. It was the first stakes victory for twin owners John and Clayton Childs.
Under Omar Klinger, the favorite ran last in a field of six for a half-mile, then swept past all her rivals.
The daughter of Horatius covered the 1 1/16 miles in a modest 1 minute, 46 3/5 seconds on a bitter-cold day. Eighteen minutes was lopped from the schedule by shortened post parades because of the weather.
"She knows she's a race horse and she's very game," Klinger said. "Except for the cold today, it's not a hard job for me because she's 'push button.' "
Snowed-out Hoover is back
Laurel will bring back the $50,000-added Hoover Stakes today, a race that was canceled with Saturday's card by the snow.
Foxie G., a stakes winner the last two times out, and Higher Strata, who was second in both those races, figure to draw most of the play.
One entry, Mary's Buckaroo, has been added to the field.