12/10/2005 1:00AM

Promenade Girl takes Geisha

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Promenade Girl, with Erick Rodriguez riding, pulls away to a 2 3/4-length victory in the Geisha Handicap.

Promenade Girl, a beaten favorite at 4-5 in her previous start, rebounded with a flourish on Saturday at Laurel Park, winning the $75,000 Geisha Handicap for Maryland-bred fillies by a widening 2 3/4 lengths.

Ridden by Erick Rodriguez, Promenade Girl covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.49 on a fast track and paid $6.

Promenade Girl settled in fourth going into the first turn as 5-1 shot Dance Fee opened a lead of three lengths after a quarter-mile in 24.08 seconds and seven lengths after a half in 47.56.

"I was worried after the first fraction, and if they slowed it up from there we would have been in trouble," said Promenade Girl's trainer, Larry Murray. "But when the next one was forty-seven I felt a little more comfortable."

Going around the turn, Promenade Girl moved from fifth to fourth to third to second, and caught Dance Fee just before straightening out for the stretch and began pulling away.

Take a Check, part of trainer Richard Small's two-horse entry and the 7-2 second-choice, rallied from seventh early to pass Dance Fee for the place. Dance Fee hung on for third.

Promenade Girl had won the $75,000 Twixt Stakes for Maryland-breds at Laurel on Sept. 7 by more than seven lengths, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 97, the highest of any horse in the Geisha.

But after a two-month freshening, she returned versus similar foes on Nov. 12, sat chilly in third while a loose-on-the-lead Gold Crossing got too far ahead, then closed fast but without threatening the winner, beaten four lengths at odds-on.

For the Geisha, Murray added blinkers on Promenade Girl, and this time, while the leader was still on the turn, she was on her flank and rolling by.

"I saw in the paper this filly had good form," Rodriguez said. "I just followed the trainer's instructions."

Promenade Girl, a 3-year-old by Carson City out of the Pleasant Colony mare Promenade Colony is owned and was bred by Sondra Bender. The victory, worth $45,000, raised her career earnings to $151,390.