12/31/2011 3:48PM

Parx: Baltimore Belle makes rare appearance outside Maryland for Sleigh Ride

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Baltimore Belle ships north from Maryland for Tuesday's Sleigh Ride at Parx.

Baltimore Belle, a proven stakes winner in her native Maryland but never before asked to run on a main track out of state, faces Orbiston Parva, whose fondness for the surface at Parx Racing may outweigh her lack of stakes experience, in Tuesday’s $75,000 Sleigh Ride at Parx.

Based at Laurel Park with trainer Mike Trombetta, Baltimore Belle was a two-time stakes winner on dirt in 2001, taking the off-the-turf Dahlia going 1 1/16 miles at Pimlico in late April and the restricted Geisha going a one-turn mile at Laurel last time out on Dec. 10.

Out of her 22 career starts, Baltimore Belle has raced outside Maryland just three times, all on the turf at Colonial Downs in Virginia. She comes off a career-best 88 Beyer Speed Figure, a favorable situation for Trombetta’s horses. Over the past five years, fillies and mares returning in less than 30 days following a winning effort in a route with a personal-best Beyer are 4 for 8 with a high $3.15 return on investment.

Orbiston Parva was in sharp form throughout 2011, winning 7 of 10 starts while competing mainly for a claiming tag and in starter allowances. She did win a third-level optional $32,000 claimer in Maryland two starts ago and followed up by just missing against similar competition at Parx, where she is 7 for 9 lifetime.

Her owner-trainer, Ramon Preciado, hits at a 48 percent clip (11 for 23) with fillies and mares who finished in the money last time out making the second start of their form cycle in a route. The mile-and-70-yard Sleigh Ride will be Orbiston Parva’s first stakes try after 19 races at lower levels.

The seven-horse field also includes the consistent New Jersey-bred Ima Jersey Girl, whose 4-for-8 record in 2011 included a pair of wins at the exact distance of the Sleigh Ride. The most recent of those performances came two starts ago at Monmouth Park, when Ima Jersey Girl earned a career-high 85 Beyer for her 1 1/2-length score in a second-level optional $35,000 claimer.

Smart Seattle, from the high-percentage barn of Graham Motion, nosed out Orbiston Parva while making the first start of her career on dirt following 14 races on turf and synthetic surfaces. Sheldon Russell comes in from Maryland to ride Smart Seattle for the first time.