09/02/2002 12:00AM

Arlington: Lakenheath wins in mud


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Lakenheath loves it wet and Lakenheath loves her home track, so a muddy Labor Day at Arlington Park was made for Lakenheath, who beat With Ability by a head in the Grade 3, $150,000 Arlington Matron.

Scoring her second graded stakes win, Lakenheath won for the fifth time in her career, but this was the best race Lakenheath has run. Showing more than her typical speed in order to keep the speedy With Ability in range, Lakenheath and jockey Chris Emigh wore With Ability down after a stretch-long battle.

Lakenheath, a homebred owned by Jim Tafel and trained by Gene Cilio, won a Grade 3 during her 2-year-old season, but she is a better horse now than ever before. Bad racing luck clouded her form for part of this season, but Lakenheath won a July 17 allowance here by 11 lengths and was second Aug. 10 in the Gardenia Handicap at Ellis Park.

Lakenheath trains more sharply at Arlington than anywhere else, and she shows more speed when she races here. Out of the gate well, she stuck within a length of the favored With Ability for three quarters of the Matron, came to her flank on the far turn and edged in front at the top of the stretch. But With Ability did not go away, surging again in the final yards to come up just sharp.

It was 10 1/2 lengths back to the third-place horse, Your Out, as the top two ran away from the rest of the field despite a slow final furlong in just under 14 seconds. Lakenheath paid $8.40 to win and was timed in 1:50.78 over a muddy track.