03/05/2003 1:00AM

Class and weight give Lilah edge

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Lilah, who has proven competitive against money-condition allowance company in her last two starts, drops into a much softer spot and should be the one to beat in Friday's six-furlong, $38,000 allowance feature for fillies and mares at Gulfstream Park.

Lilah took a run at, but proved no match for, Grade 1 stakes winner Mandy's Gold when she was second just 11 days ago. In her previous start, Lilah turned back in distance to five furlongs and finished third behind two five-furlong specialists, Petrina Above and odds-on favorite Flying Birdie, after getting a rail-skimming trip under regular rider Shannon Uske.

The last time Lilah faced second-level allowance company was in her local debut, when she finished second behind And That's My Story following an eventful trip. It was a trip that began when she bobbled at the break and ended with her blocked along the rail through much of the stretch.

Lilah will not only take a class drop but also get an eight-pound weight concession from her five rivals with Uske, a 10-pound apprentice, aboard. She should also find herself with plenty of pace to run at, assuming Melody of Colors and How About It flash their best speed.

Melody of Colors showed her heels to a fast group of $50,000 claimers while coming off a nine-week layoff on Feb. 19. She contested fractions of 21.81 and 45.07 seconds before drawing away to an easy 3 1/4-length victory. The win was the second in a row on dirt for the fleet filly, who is trained by Tim Hills for owner-breeder Larry Foggle.

How About It has used her abundant speed to register a pair of front-running victories this meet, but she will be tested for class when she steps back into the allowance ranks.

The biggest question mark in the race is Delmonico Cat, who has won two of her last three starts but appears better suited to more ground. Trained by Bill Mott, she has been idle since winning a first-level allowance race going a mile on grass last summer at Belmont. Delmonico Cat shipped down from Payson Park and worked three furlongs in a sizzling 34.60 seconds here on Feb. 22.

A fast pace and an extra eighth of a mile should benefit Mom's Appeal, who ran out of real estate when she finished a late-striding fourth at five furlongs in her last race. That was her first start since being claimed by owner Mike Gill and trainer Mark Shuman.

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