11/20/2004 1:00AM

Defer and McGaughey look good


BALTIMORE - When deciding whether to run Defer in the Laurel Futurity at Pimlico or next Saturday's Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct, trainer Shug McGaughey said the determining factor was which race he felt the horse had the best chance of winning.

McGaughey obviously chose wisely by opting for the Laurel Futurity.

Though a bit rank early and a touch immature late, Defer ran past the Todd Pletcher-trained Funk in upper stretch and went on for a two-length victory in the Grade 3, $100,000 . Funk, who stalked the pace, finished second, 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Woody's Apache, who beat Elusive Thunder by a head for third. Malibu Moonshine finished last.

Defer, an Ogden Mills Phipps homebred son of Danzig, finished a well-beaten second behind Rockport Harbor in the Grade 3 Nashua last out. McGaughey opted not to run against that rival or Galloping Grocer in the Remsen.

In the Laurel Futurity, Defer was a bit rank entering the first turn as jockey Jerry Bailey tried to get him back off a pedestrian pace. After three-quarters run in 1:13.71, Bailey guided Defer three wide for the stretch drive, and he took over from Funk inside the three-sixteenths pole. Defer appeared to pull himself up after making the lead and Bailey urged him to the wire. Defer ($3.40) covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.48 over a fast track.

"I think with different surroundings it distracted him a little bit; not so unusual with only two prior races," Bailey said. "I thought he handled everything well; being in behind horses, the dirt [in his face], then kicking on when I asked him. For three races that's pretty good.''

Added assistant trainer Graham Wolfran: "It was nice to see our horse finally relax, sit in there behind horses, get a good experience, and be able to run down a slow pace like that.''

John Velazquez, the rider of Funk, said his horse just "ran an even race.''

Irish Colony upsets Charles Hadry

Irish Colony ruined Bowman's Band's farewell party by getting first run on that colt around the turn and storming home to a 1 1/2-length victory over Bowman's Band in the $100,000 Charles Hadry Stakes. It was another three-quarters of a length back to Last Intention.

Gygistar, the 7-10 favorite, faded to fifth after making the lead turning for home.

The Hadry marked the 34th and final race for Bowman's Band, who will stand at stud at the Maryland Stallion Station next year. Bowman's Band, who won the 2003 Meadowlands Cup, finishes with a record of 7-11-6 and earnings of $1,315,774.

"I'm heartbroken,'' said owner Martin Schwartz.

Conversely, trainer Ronald Cartwright was delighted with Irish Colony, who won for the fourth time in 14 starts this year. It was also the 11th victory from 31 starts for the 4-year-old gelded son of Larrupin, owned and bred by Ryehill Farm.

"He's just getting better all the time,'' Cartwright said.

Irish Colony, ridden by Steve Hamilton, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.30 and returned $28 to win.

Essence wires Anne Arundel field

Essence, under Velazquez, took the lead entering the clubhouse turn and never relinquished it, winning the Grade 3, $100,000 by a neck over Rare Gift. It was 2 1/2 lengths back to Family Business. He Loves Me, the 8-5 favorite finished fourth.

It was the first stakes win for Essence, a daughter of Gulch trained by Todd Pletcher for Padua Stables.

Breaking from the rail, Essence outfooted Summer Rainbow and Jazz Legend entering the first turn with Rare Gift sitting inside in fourth. Essence set fractions of 23.74 seconds, 47.96, 1:11.83 and 1:36.59 and was able to hold off Rare Gift at the wire. Essence covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.37 and returned $8.40.

"I have to tell you she was game,'' Velazquez said. "We wanted to be among the first three out of the gate and into the first turn. Nobody really challenged as I took the lead.''

Hear Us Roar holds on Selima

Hear Us Roar ($3.20), a 2-year-old Maryland-bred daughter of Lion Hearted, successfully stretched out around two turns winning the $100,000 Selima Stakes by a neck over Take a Check. Hear Us Roar, who is now 3 for 3 for trainer Francis Campitelli and owner Rosalee Davison, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.24.

Stewart Elliott rode the winner, replacing Luis Garcia, who was complaining of neck pain and a possible concussion after being involved in a four-horse spill earlier on the card.

Eric Rodriguez, another rider involved in the spill, took off his remaining mounts due to pain in his left wrist and forearm. Rodriguez went to a local hospital for X-rays. Jockeys Abel Castellano and Eric Camacho, also involved in the spill, were able to ride their remaining mounts.

* Sensibly Chic ($10.80) rallied from off the pace to win the $50,000 Stefanita Stakes by a length over longshot Wallop. Sensibly Chic covered six furlongs in 1:10.58.