06/15/2006 12:00AM

Colonial: Union Avenue has edge

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In a field that includes two first-time starters and three other runners that have won only a maiden race, Union Avenue and Love Conquers are clearly the standouts in the $60,000 John D. Marsh Stakes at Colonial Downs.

The 1 1/16-mile race over the inner turf course is restricted to Virginia-breds.

Although Love Conquers is 2 for 2 over the Colonial grass, he is a deep closer who may not get the needed pace set-up.

In contrast, the 3-year-old Union Avenue, trained by Bill Mott, displayed tactical speed in a 5 1/4-length maiden victory at Gulfstream Park and a close fourth-place finish against older first-level allowance horses at Churchill Downs.