01/24/2003 12:00AM

Lady Tak will try to go a distance


NEW ORLEANS - There's no disputing that Lady Tak is fast. Trainer Steve Asmussen remembered that Lady Tak worked a furlong in 10.20 seconds at the 2-year-old sale where she was purchased last year. She ran six furlongs in 1:09 winning an allowance race at Churchill Downs, and six furlongs in 1:10 winning the Thelma Stakes here at Fair Grounds earlier this month. The Thelma earned her a 99 Beyer Speed Figure, a top-five figure this year among 3-year-olds of either sex.

What's at issue now is how far Lady Tak can carry her speed. The answer will be forthcoming Sunday, when Lady Tak races two turns for the first time in the $100,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes. The one-mile Tiffany Lass drew a graded-stakes quality field of 10, including the hot prospects Allspice and Perfect Wave. My Trusty Cat also has strong credentials, but is not certain to ship from trainer David Vance's Oaklawn Park base. Belle of Perintown won the Pocahontas at Churchill Downs last fall. The rest of the fillies are longshots.

The race mirrors last season's, when Asmussen sent out the brilliantly fast Lake Lady, who won the Tiffany Lass after she - like Lady Tak - had won three sprints in a row.

"The difference is that Lake Lady had been behind other horses," said Asmussen, who trains Lady Tak for Heiligbrodt Racing Stable. "They're very similar in that they're both brilliantly fast with good attitudes. We're hoping that can lead to success at longer distances."

Lady Tak is by Mutakddim, a Seeking the Gold sire whose progeny tend to be better sprinting. Lady Tak, Asmussen said, has a deep shoulder and wonderful conformation, but her body type is not that of a classic route horse. Still, raw talent will carry Lady Tak a long way, and since one-mile races at Fair Grounds end at the sixteenth pole, Lady Tak doesn't have to last the whole stretch.

She has drawn post 5, two spots outside Perfect Wave, who is unbeaten in two sprint starts and has early speed to rival Lady Tak's. "I think she'll be close to the pace, but she doesn't need to be on the lead," said Dallas Stewart, Perfect Wave's trainer.

Between the stretchout sprinters is Allspice, whose connections are salivating at a chance to try her two turns. Allspice won her maiden by 16 lengths last fall at Arlington before taking the seven-furlong Eliza Stakes by more than three lengths after stumbling at the start. Owned by Jim Tafel and trained by Gene Cilio, Allspice was disqualified from second to third in the Thelma, which at six furlongs was too short for her.

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