11/16/2007 12:00AM

History Challenge: Finest females

EmailIn 1750, Col. Benjamin Tasker, who owned the Belair estate in Prince Georges County, Md., imported a 5-year-old mare from England.

Given the name Selima in America, she is believed to be the only offspring of the Godolphin Arabian - one of three foundation male-line sires of the Thoroughbred breed - ever brought to this country.

Selima never raced in England, but was undefeated in two important starts in America. As a broodmare, Selima produced 10 foals, "through which she has become the ancestress of almost every famous American Thoroughbred of modern times," wrote the renowned Daily Racing Form columnist and historian John Hervey in 1941.

In 1926, the Maryland State Fair Association, which conducted fall racing at Laurel, inaugurated the Selima Stakes, which for more than a decade was the richest race in the country for females. The winner's share regularly surpassed $20,000 - a huge sum at that time for either sex.

The Selima Stakes will be run for the 81st time next Saturday at Laurel. Test your knowledge of more recent females who have left their mark on the breed.

1. This filly was owned by prominent Kentucky horseman Hal Price Headley, one of the founders of Keeneland Race Course. She won 4 of 7 starts at age 2 in 1929 and finished second to colts in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes - enough to be acclaimed champion juvenile filly. At age 3, she was again named champion after victories in the Kentucky Oaks and Arlington Oaks. Later she became the foundation mare for the family that includes Sir Ivor, among others. Name her.

2. For most of the early decades of the 20th century, Marcel Boussac dominated the owners' standings in France - heading the list for 19 seasons. In 1925, he bred his mare Helen de Troie to the top stallion Teddy. The result of the mating was a bay filly who raced seven times at ages 2 and 3 without winning.

Not one who liked to bring his horses along slowly, Boussac insisted on running his filly in only stakes races. Her best finish was a second.

American trainer Dick Thompson purchased the filly for Col. Edward R. Bradley. She would go on to be labeled by some as the greatest American foundation mare of the century. Name her.

3. The Belair Stud, which had been home to Selima 150 years earlier, was inherited by William Woodward Sr. in the early 20th century. It became one of the most famous farms in the country thanks in large part to this broodmare.

She raced only once, wrenching her back and finishing last. As a broodmare, her first foal was Petee-Wrack, a winner of seven stakes, including the Travers, Suburban, and Metropolitan. In 1927, she produced America's second Triple Crown winner, Gallant Fox. Name her.

4. Many of the sport's most successful broodmares were failures as racehorses. Some never started. Some never won. Such was not the case for this filly, who was the first to be formally voted America's champion sprinter (when official polling began in 1936).

In addition to being champion, she was one of the most popular horses of her era, garnering headlines wherever she raced. She produced 11 foals, seven of whom were fillies who all left their mark in one way or another. Name this champion.

5. In 1977, future Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas began making his gradual shift from training Quarter Horses to training Thoroughbreds. The first few months were rocky ones, but by the Hollywood Park meeting in 1978, Lukas was beginning to turn out winners at a regular clip. His first noteworthy one was a victory by this 2-year-old filly in the Nursery Stakes on June 14. It also marked the first significant stakes win by an offspring of the great Secretariat.

The filly went on to bigger scores on the racetrack and an even bigger one as a broodmare. Name the filly and her most famous son.