03/11/2005 12:00AM

Sunland: Bar Bailey streak on line

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A little over two months ago, the stakes-placed mare Bar Bailey could have been claimed for $15,000 at Sunland Park. Fortunately for owner, Harry Veruchi, Bar Bailey not only won that claiming race, but also remained in his possession afterward.

Nine weeks and two victories later, Bar Bailey sits atop the older filly sprint division at Sunland, and seeks her second consecutive stakes win in Sunday's $52,850 Santa Teresa Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Following the claiming win, Bar Bailey stepped up and defeated optional claimers. Perhaps unsure of her class, bettors let Bar Bailey go off at better than 10-1 in her next start, the Czaria Handicap on Feb. 25. Third early behind a very fast pace, Bar Bailey wore down Savorthetime in the final furlong to win by a neck, earning a career-best 92 Beyer.

Bar Bailey's trainer, Ramon Gonzalez, was recently suspended for one year for six positive tests for a banned substance. Gonzalez's brother, Jose, has taken over the training and will saddle Bar Bailey on Sunday.

Elegant Mercedes, a rallying third in the Czaria, could pose a threat to Bar Bailey. She has 1 win in 4 starts since being claimed for $75,000 at Saratoga last summer.

Either Red Lifesaver or Wish for Gold will probably set the pace. Wish for Gold is a recent Sunland allowance winner who was stakes placed twice with Illinois-breds last year.