11/20/2012 1:21PM

Laurel Park: Catch a Thief cuts back, faces statebreds in Geisha Stakes

Nikki Sherman
Catch a Thief will cut back to a mile for Thursday's Geisha Stakes.

Catch a Thief, taking a distinct drop in class following four straight races in graded stakes, and Bold Affair, a sharp filly stretching out beyond seven furlongs for the first time following 14 sprints, are the two most difficult horses to evaluate in the Thanksgiving feature at Laurel Park.

The $100,000 Geisha Stakes, a one-mile race for Maryland-bred fillies and mares, goes as race 8 on a card that begins earlier than usual at 11:05 a.m. Eastern.

The 5-year-old Catch a Thief cuts back to one turn and meets statebred company for just the second time following consecutive last-place finishes in Grade 2 and Grade 3 races. In her only previous try against Maryland-breds, Catch a Thief won the 2010 Twixt.

Aside from her most recent race, the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm following a break of three months, Catch a Thief usually runs well in one-turn events. She was good enough to finish second in the Grade 2 Bed o’ Roses going seven furlongs in July and won a one-mile overnight stakes over Aqueduct’s main track in March.

The extra furlong of the Geisha is the unknown factor for Bold Affair, although based on her two most recent performances going seven furlongs, the added yardage should not be a problem. Bold Affair cruised to a front-running 13 1/4-length victory in last month’s Maryland Million Distaff and won the Conniver in March by 6 1/2 lengths while making her first start in seven weeks.

Her trainer, Howard Wolfendale, is 4 for 16 with runners switching from sprints to routes following a break of 31 to 60 days.

The seven-horse field also includes defending champion Baltimore Belle, who makes her first start on the main track since finishing a distant second to Bold Affair in the Conniver. She comes off a fourth as the 2-1 favorite in the Oct. 6 Maryland Million Ladies on turf.

A year ago, Baltimore Belle came off a similar break and surface switch to win the Geisha by 1 1/4 lengths.

Access to Charlie and Bayonne show recent good races at related distances to the Geisha.

Access to Charlie, third in the 2011 Geisha and winner of the one-mile Twixt a year ago, comes into this year’s race off a win going seven furlongs in a second-level optional $25,000 claimer.

Charles Town shipper Bayonne has won three of her last four races, including the seven-furlong Pink Ribbon two starts ago.