03/21/2005 12:00AM

Gulfstream: Age hasn't slowed Lilah

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Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
Lilah with apprentice jockey Rajiv Maragh wins the Grade III $100,000 Hurricane Bertie Handicap on Sunday.

Horses rarely reach their peak at the age of 8. But that appears to be the case with Lilah, who became the oldest mare to win a graded stakes at Gulfstream Park after registering a three-length victory over Forty Moves in the $100,000 .

Lilah has gotten better with every start since finishing fourth as the even-money favorite in an optional claiming race here on Jan. 7. The Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie was the third win in a row for Lilah, who is trained by Allen Jerkens.

Lilah overcame a bumping incident at the start to contest the pace with Molto Vita, disposed of that rival on the turn, then increased her advantage under pressure. Forty Moves, who was also knocked about leaving the gate, split horses into the stretch but was no match for the winner.

Molto Vita, the 118-pound highweight in the field of six fillies and mares, finished a tiring third, while 8-5 favorite Bohemian Lady finished fourth after prompting the early pace.

Lilah ($14) was ridden to victory by regular rider Rajiv Maragh, who won three races on Sunday's card. She covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.45.

"It's amazing for her to be this good at that age," said Jerkens. "It was surprising to see her up with the pace. Normally she would come from out of it. We might breed her or see what's available and run her again. For her at this age, it's frosting on the cake."