12/03/2007 12:00AM

Successful Affair seeks repeat

EmailOZONE PARK, N.Y. - It's that time of year again. No, not holiday season, but marathon stakes season at Aqueduct. Wednesday's $75,000 Coyote Lakes at 1 1/2 miles serves as a stepping-stone to the $75,000 Gallant Fox Handicap at 1 5/8 miles on Dec. 29.

A field of six was entered for the Coyote Lakes, with trainer Gary Contessa's coupled entry of Successful Affair and Malibu Moonshine likely to go off a strong favorite. Trainer Bruce Levine, who trained Coyote Lakes to win three runnings of the Gallant Fox, sends out the uncoupled entry of Angelic Aura and Piety.

Last year, Successful Affair, a son of sprinter Successful Appeal, became a most unlikely marathon monster, winning both the Coyote Lakes and Gallant Fox after taking a two-mile allowance race in November. A 22-race campaign over a 19-month span caught up to Successful Affair in the spring, and Contessa put him on the shelf after he finished sixth in the Wagon Limit Stakes at Belmont on May 18.

Successful Affair returned to the work tab in September and shows 10 breezes, including three one-mile workouts at Aqueduct.

"It's not quite as easy to get a horse back to go a mile and a half off the layoff, but I think I've trained him enough to be ready to run a mile and a half," Contessa said.

Malibu Moonshine comes in off a seven-week layoff and has proven to be just as adept as Successful Affair in marathon races. He beat Successful Affair in the Pleasant Colony Stakes at 1 3/4 miles last April 7. Malibu Moonshine finished third in the Grade 1 Suburban in July. He has lost his last four races, but two were on turf, one was in the mud, and one was the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

"Malibu Moonshine is the now horse, training off the charts," Contessa said.

Angelic Aura, second in this race last year, won at this distance on Sept. 20 for Contessa but was claimed out of that race by Levine. After winning a starter handicap with the gelding on Sept. 29, Levine shipped Angelic Aura to the Meadowlands where he finished third of four in the Alysheba Stakes.

"He didn't breeze good, he didn't run good," Levine said. "He breezed good the other day. I think he'll run good."

Levine claimed Piety for $50,000 at Monmouth in August and won a third-level allowance race with the 5-year-old gelding on Nov. 4. Nite Light, a 3-year-old son of champions Thunder Gulch and Lite Light, has two wins and two seconds from five starts for trainer Todd Pletcher.