07/29/2003 11:00PM

Funny Mood sharp for feature race


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - And you thought the Lone Star Park meet had already ended this year.

Well, it has, but Lone Star fans can get a taste of their regular medicine in Arlington's feature race Friday. Here we find jockey Corey Lanerie riding for trainer Steve Asmussen, an ubiquitous combination at Lone Star the last two seasons.

Cole Norman somehow managed to beat out Asmussen for the Lone Star training title this summer, but Lanerie squeezed out a win in the jockey standings, finishing one win ahead of Eddie Martin. Lanerie, who has ridden regularly if sporadically in Chicago in recent seasons, brought his tack here this week and began accepting mounts Wednesday.

Friday, the feature comes early - race 5 on a 10-race twilight program - and the Lanerie-Asmussen combination has a great chance to strike. They team up with Funny Mood, who won her last race by seven lengths. She meets just four opponents in a third-level allowance race with a $62,500 claiming option that Funny Mood's connections opted to exercise.

Funny Mood is By MARCUS HERSHa 6-year-old Argentine mare in her first year of North American racing. She was in trainer Jesse Wigginton's barn this winter at Turfway Park, went to trainer Alice Cohn at Fair Grounds, then eventually wound up with Asmussen in New Orleans.

After two even races on grass, Funny Mood broke through with a two-length dirt win March 27 at Oaklawn Park. This is no superstar mare, and Funny Mood struggled when in against better allowance horses at the Churchill meet. But, when entered for a $40,000 claiming tag in her most recent start Funny Mood turned in a thoroughly dominating performance, easily cruising to the lead at the top of the stretch and running by herself through the stretch in an easy win.

Those who ascribe human-like feelings to equines would suggest Funny Mood comes into her start Friday brimming with confidence. Those staring at past performances will find an appealing alternative to the likely favorite difficult to uncover in this one-mile race.

Melody Blue may fit, but has made all of her starts on turf and is a completely unknown quantity on the main track. Alina Alina beat lesser horses by just a neck in her last start. White O Morn hasn't come within 10 lengths of a win since May, 2002. It all leaves Princess Paleface as the "other" horse. Fourth last time out behind a high-quality 3-year-old in Awesome Humor, Princess Paleface returns from a two-month break showing solid recent workouts.