03/08/2012 10:42AM

Laurel: Bold Affair in with Maryland-breds in Conniver

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Alyssa Spakowski/EQUI-PHOTO
Bold Affair will stretch out to seven furlongs in the Conniver on Saturday.

As a 3-year-old last season, Bold Affair was good enough to win a $200,000 stakes against open company. Given nearly seven weeks off following two losing efforts in January, Bold Affair will drop to face Maryland-breds for the first time in Saturday’s $75,000 Conniver Stakes at Laurel Park.

Although she will be facing softer opposition, Bold Affair will be stretching out to seven furlongs for the first time after racing six furlongs in all but one of her previous eight starts. The lone exception, however, was notable. Asked to go slightly longer than usual in the 6 1/2-furlong Jostle at Parx, Bold Affair responded by coming from fifth to win the $200,000 stakes by a length.

In her lone race at Laurel, which came in January, Bold Affair raced wide throughout a six-furlong sprint for high-priced optional claimers and finished second, beaten 4 1/4 lengths by the multiple stakes winner Red’s Round Table and finishing a head in front of Magical Feeling. Magical Feeling returned to upset the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap in mid-February.

Bold Affair’s trainer, Howard Wolfendale, is 9 for 40 (23 percent) with horses returning following a break of 31 to 60 days in races between 6 1/2 and seven furlongs. Wolfendale said he is concerned about Bold Affair breaking from the rail under Abel Castellano.

“I wish I didn’t get the rail going seven-eighths,” Wolfendale said. “She prefers to be outside of horses so hopefully we can get outside. She is a great big filly and has been training well. I expect a good effort.”

The logical horse to beat is multiple stakes winner Baltimore Belle, who cuts back sharply in distance following a runner-up effort going 1 1/8 miles in the Maryland Racing Media a month ago. The 5-year-old Baltimore Belle’s last race against Maryland-breds produced a 1 1/4- length victory going a one-turn mile in December.

Access to Charlie was beaten 5 1/4 lengths by Baltimore Belle in the Geisha and takes another crack at her in the Conniver. She cuts back slightly to seven furlongs after posting three wins in her last four starts, all going a mile, including the Twixt for 3-year-old fillies in October.

Art of the Hunt, a winner of the Squan Song the last time she went seven furlongs in November, was 1 1/4 lengths in back of Access to Charlie in the Twixt. The 4-year-old Art of the Hunt has been off for three months since finishing far back of Baltimore Belle in the Geisha. Her trainer, Fran Campitelli, is 0 for 5 with runners returning from a break of 61 to 180 days in races at 6 1/2 to seven furlongs.