02/13/2009 12:00AM

History Challenge: Immortal females


More than three dozen remarkable fillies and mares from the past have stakes bearing their names run throughout the year at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga. Some, like Go for Wand, Personal Ensign, and Ruffian, are familiar to today's racing fans, but many are names known only to historians of the sport.

Next weekend, Aqueduct will remember two outstanding females from the 1940s and 1950s. The 37th running of the Rare Treat Stakes is scheduled for Saturday, while the Busher Stakes is set for its 30th renewal on Sunday.

Rare Treat was never a champion, but won stakes at ages 3, 4, and 5 and campaigned for six seasons, from 1954 through 1959. She started 101 times, winning 16 races.

Busher was champion 2-year-old filly of 1944 and Horse of the Year, champion 3-year-old filly, and champion handicap female of 1945. She won 15 of 21 lifetime starts, beating males in the San Vicente Stakes, Arlington Handicap, Washington Park Handicap, and Hollywood Derby.

Test your knowledge of lesser-known females whose names live on in New York Racing Association stakes.

1. Bred in 1853, she was the first American-bred and American-owned horse to win a race in England.

Originally named Poison and racing in New Orleans at Metairie (at the time one of the most important racetracks in America) in 1855, this filly won successive one-mile heats in 1:46.25 and 1:45 flat, both American time records for the distance.

Sold in 1856 to famed Kentucky owner and breeder Richard Ten Broeck, the filly had her name changed and she was shipped to England. Name her.

2. How this broodmare - who went on to become one of the most renowned foundation mares of the 20th century - ended up being sent to a slaughterhouse in France at age 24 in 1929 is one of the sad tales of racing.

Legendary French breeder and owner Marcel Boussac was all business and had no room for sentiment. He no longer had need for the old mare, who was bred and raced in America, because she had been barren for two seasons. Name this mare, whose family produced Mr. Prospector, among others.

3. Undefeated in her first six starts (five stakes) in 1945 at age 2, this filly took on colts in the rich Futurity Stakes on the old Widener straightaway at Belmont Park. She was the odds-on favorite.

At the point where the track crossed the steeplechase course, the filly swerved, hit the temporary rail, and fell. She hit the rail so hard that observers said she likely would have been seriously injured had she hit the permanent rail. She was voted champion 2-year-old filly. Name her.

4. She won only 7 of 32 lifetime starts from 1954 to 1957, but she was a hard-knocking filly who often found herself competing against some of the best males in the country.

Her signature year came in 1956, when she finished the season as the leading money-winning female ($163,425). Most of that came from the winner's share of the Delaware Handicap, the richest Thoroughbred race ever run to that point for females. Name her.

5. Midway through 1959, Bug Brush was on a roll and looked like she would be the champion handicap female of the year, but the filly slacked off in the second half of the season while another 4-year-old filly just kept getting better.

This filly ran gamely in the early part of the year, but blossomed in the summer and fall, easily winning the Diana Handicap at Saratoga in August and the Beldame and Ladies handicaps at Aqueduct in October.

In the end, the filly won nine of 13 starts that year and was easily voted champion handicap filly/mare. Name her.