12/08/2005 1:00AM

Lexi Star gets third shot at rival


Lexi Star, narrowly beaten by Sticky in each of her last two starts, will take another crack at her nemesis in Saturday's $75,000 Geisha Handicap at Laurel Park.

A 1 1/8-mile race restricted to Maryland-bred fillies and mares, the Geisha drew a field of 11, including a three-horse entry from trainer Dickie Small.

Both Lexi Star and Sticky will be facing older horses after a pair of close battles against 3-year-old fillies the past two times out.

Competing at equal weights, Sticky grudgingly surrendered a two-length lead in the final furlong of the 1 1/8-mile Maryland Million Oaks, in which Sticky rallied to get up by a head. A month later, facing open company in the $100,000 Anne Arundel Stakes, Lexi Star benefited from a six-pound break in the weights, but finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Sticky. Both fillies were beaten that day by Trickle of Gold, but earned career-best Beyer Speed Figures: 97 for Sticky and 96 for Lexi Star.

In the Geisha, Sticky, who is coupled with Take a Check and Cozy Gain, will be giving away only one pound as she goes for her fifth win and second stakes victory in eight lifetime starts. Lexi Star, 2 for 5 lifetime, has a second and a third in her two tries against stakes company.

The chief challenger to Sticky and Lexi Star could be yet another 3-year-old, Promenade Girl.

Trained by Larry Murray, Promenade Girl was an easy winner of the one-mile Twixt at Laurel in September, earning a 97 Beyer, then after a two-month freshening had to settle for second as the 4-5 favorite in the Northern Dancer on Nov. 12. She will be racing with blinkers for the first time on Saturday.

Among the older horses, Grant's Moon would be dangerous if she can regain the form she displayed earlier this season.

Grant's Moon, 6 for 14 lifetime, picked up two wins and a second in three consecutive starts between February and April, with each start coming at 1 1/8 miles. Although she won the Alma North racing around two turns at Timonium, her form deteriorated in her two most recent starts. A 4-year-old, Grant's Moon may improve after being given six weeks' rest by trainer Donnovan Haughton.

Dance Fee, who has been third or better in 25 of 34 lifetime starts, comes into the Geisha off a wire-to-wire win in an overnight stakes at Delaware Park last month. Although she finished fourth the last time she raced at Laurel, Dance Fee has a record of 2-2-1 in 7 starts over the track.