08/30/2003 12:00AM

'Lady' appears unbeatable


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - To those who would suggest there's no such thing as a sure thing: Are you sure?

Take Charge Lady should bring out the bridge-jumpers Monday at Arlington, where she will start as the heavy favorite in the Grade 3, $150,000 Arlington Matron Handicap. In her last three races, Take Charge Lady has faced Wild Spirit, Sightseek, and Azeri, quite likely the top three older female horses in the country - unless you think Take Charge Lady has earned one of the spots.

It is not that the six horses she runs against on Monday are bad, but they simply do not seem to be in Take Charge Lady's league. Together, her rivals have earned in excess of $1.7 million, while Take Charge Lady has surpassed the $2 million mark.

Worse for them, Take Charge Lady enters the 1 1/8-mile Matron in great physical condition, according to her trainer, Ken McPeek. The lingering effects of a serious foot bruise she suffered late this spring are gone, and Take Charge Lady has been training with gusto at Saratoga.

"I really think she's as good right now as she's ever been," McPeek said this week. "This race should get her going in the right direction for the rest of the year."

Shane Sellers, Take Charge Lady's rider in two of three starts this year, has the mount on Monday. He should also have options. Take Charge Lady has the speed to go to the front if nobody else does, but from post 7, Sellers can look inside and see how things are shaking out as he goes into the first turn.

He may see nobody inside of him. Summer Mis looks like the other speed horse in the Matron, but her trainer, Tony Mitchell, doesn't want his filly hooking up with Take Charge Lady early on.

"She has plenty of speed, and I'd love for us to sit right off her," Mitchell said.

That could mean a good stalking trip for Summer Mis, who has the raw talent to be a factor in the Matron, but has not shown as much in two-turn races than she has in sprints and one-turn miles.

To the Queen may be the most likely exacta partner with Take Charge Lady, having won an overnight handicap here by eight lengths on Aug. 10.

Lakenheath, last year's Matron winner, comes off a bad race in the Gardenia at Ellis Park, but has run her best races on this surface. And Salty Farma, unraced since late May, has been breezing up a storm for this comeback race.