12/14/2006 1:00AM

Promenade Girl short price vs. statebreds


Promenade Girl, good enough to win a Grade 2 stakes and finish third in a Grade 1 event in her two most recent starts, will be a short-priced favorite when she drops into Maryland-bred company for Saturday's $75,000 Geisha Handicap at Laurel Park.

A decisive winner of this same 1o1/8-mile race a year ago, the 4-year-old Promenade Girl actually gets a fairly comfortable weight assignment at 122 pounds. That's two pounds less than she carried when beaten 2 1/2 lengths in the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland last time out on Oct. 8.

Her three wins this year came in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park, the Golden Sylvia at Mountaineer, and the one-mile Nellie Morse at Laurel, where she is 4 for 7 lifetime.

Promenade Girl, listed at 4-5 on the track's morning line, will be making her first start in two months and only her fifth start since April 1.

"We've been spacing out her races this year," said trainer Larry Murray. "We gave her most of the summer off after she won that race at Mountaineer, and she was supposed to go in the Falls City at Churchill Downs after the race at Keeneland, but we skipped it."

The only minor chinks in Promenade Girl's armor are two losses locally against statebreds as the odds-on favorite, most recently in the seven-furlong Conniver in March.

The two with the best chance of pulling an upset appear to be Lexi Star and Plata.

Lexi Star matched her career-best Beyer Speed Figure winning an overnight stakes on closing day at Delaware Park last month. She was far back of Promenade Girl in both last year's Geisha and this year's Molly Pitcher.

Plata, 4 for 6 at Laurel, finished two lengths ahead of Promenade Girl in the Conniver. Although most of her good races are at seven furlongs, Plata did win her lone start at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.