07/07/2005 11:00PM

A year later, Bailes a very different race

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Satan's Code ran the best race of his 19-start career in last year's W. Meredith Bailes Memorial Stakes, winning by 5 1/2 lengths and earning a 97 Beyer Speed Figure.

But when the now 7-year-old Satan's Code returns to Colonial Downs for the first time since his high-water mark to defend his title in the $60,000 Bailes on Sunday, he may be a mere shadow of his old self.

Non-competitive in 2 of 3 starts this year, Satan's Code was unable to win even when trainer Scott Lake dropped him all the way to the $20,000 claiming level last time out at Philadelphia Park.

His recent form makes Satan's Code a shaky proposition in the Bailes, a six-furlong sprint restricted to Virginia-breds.

Favoritism may very well fall to another claimer, Late Night Lover, even though he's the only 3-year-old in the field and facing older horses for the first time.

Racing at Belmont Park for tags of $60,000 and $75,000, Late Night Lover displayed good early speed and posted back-to-back Beyers of 88 and 82. Both those Beyers are better than any other horse in the field has earned this year.

In four previous stakes tries, however, Late Night Lover is winless, including a sixth-place finish in a restricted stakes at Pimlico in April.

For those who dislike Late Night Lover and Satan's Code, there are few alternatives.

Standing Room Only finished third behind Satan's Code in last year's Bailes, but has been off for nearly a year since then. His trainer, Laura Dennis, is 0 for 11 with horses returning from long layoffss the past two seasons.

Native Heir has been first or second in 5 of 6 lifetime starts over Colonial's main track, and set the pace before tiring late in the 2004 Bailes. But like Satan's Code, Native Heir appears to have lost a couple steps at 7. He's 0 for 3 in 2005, finishing far back against $20,000 claimers last time out at Philly Park.