12/08/2011 2:13PM

Laurel Park: Baltimore Belle aims to turn tables on dirt in Geisha Stakes


A little more than two months ago, Love’s Blush beat Baltimore Belle by 3 1/2 lengths in the Maryland Million Ladies, a 1 1/8-mile race contested on turf. Their rematch in Saturday’s $75,000 Geisha for Maryland-bred fillies and mares at Laurel Park will come at a one-turn mile on the main track, which makes it plausible that Baltimore Belle can turn the tables.

Although both the 4-year-old Baltimore Belle (10-2-3-0) and the 5-year-old Love’s Blush (10-1-2-3) own similar lifetime records on fast dirt surfaces, Baltimore Belle easily defeated her rival by 8 1/2 lengths when they met in the off-the-turf Dahila this past April. Love’s Blush, from the high-percentage barn of Rodney Jenkins, did encounter trouble at the start of that race. But she is 0 for 5 at the distance, including a distant third as the even-money favorite in last year’s Geisha.

The last time Baltimore Belle raced at a mile, she faded to fourth at 8-5, but last season she ran well twice at the distance, winning the Maryland Million Oaks and finishing second in the Twixt.

Fools in Love and Lily Quatorze, who finished noses apart as the three-four finishers in the Maryland Million Distaff going seven furlongs, also meet again.

Fools in Love will make the second start of her current form cycle after contesting the early pace and fading to a distant fourth against open company in the $125,000 Treasure Chest at Delta Downs. The last two times Fools in Love has raced second time off a layoff, she improved her Beyer Speed Figures by 12 points and 19 points. Considering she earned a 78 for her race at Delta Downs, any move forward will make her dangerous in this spot. In comparison, Baltimore Belle got an 80 for her April 23 win in the Dahlia.

Lily Quatorze comes into the Geisha off a second-place finish as the lukewarm 5-2 favorite in the seven-furlong Squan Song, a race restricted to Maryland-breds who have never won a stakes. She would have to improve substantially off the 68 Beyer she earned last time to contend against Saturday’s field.

The same can be said about Access to Charlie, who steps up to face older fillies and mares off a win Oct. 22 against 3-year-old fillies in the Twixt.