01/27/2002 12:00AM

Lake Lady wins Tiffany Lass


NEW ORLEANS - The question was whether Lake Lady could excel in a route race. Her answer was yes.

Making her first two-turn start in Sunday's $100,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes, Lake Lady continued her transformation from speedy sprinter to relaxed router, beating Charmed Gift by one and one-quarter lengths with a decisive move late in the one-mile race.

"She makes it looks so easy," said trainer Steve Asmussen.

Asmussen is making it look easy, too. This month alone, he and jockey Donnie Meche have won five stakes races at Fair Grounds. They also swept this weekend's stakes, winning the Lecomte on Saturday with Easyfromthegitgo.

Lake Lady was sold by Asmussen's father, Keith, to Robert Beck's Coast To Coast Racing fund between an allowance win at Churchill Downs last fall and her win in the Jan. 6 Thelma Stakes here. She is making good on value and on Sunday outran her pedigree. Lake Lady is by Salt Lake, generally a sire of sprinters, and gets little stamina from the female side of her family.

"Her pedigree says sprint, but nothing about her says that," said Asmussen.

Lake Lady, who now has won four straight races after losing her career debut, has learned to settle behind horses, thanks to Asmussen's and Meche's diligent efforts. Sunday, she coasted along in third, a couple lengths behind a moderate pace that of a quarter-mile in 24.84 seconds and a half-mile in 48.06.

"She's so relaxed, and in a jump she can be up on the lead," Meche said. "The acceleration's always there."

Meche waited to use it until mid-way around the far turn, when he angled Lake Lady out to tackle Miss City Halo and Emeraldforajudge. She surged clear of the leaders and got a nice jump on her main rival, Charmed Gift, who had followed her down the backstretch and around the turn. Charmed Gift slowly gained on Lake Lady in the stretch, but one-mile races here end at the sixteenth pole, and Lake Lady still was comfortably ahead at the wire, though Charmed Gift galloped out ahead of the winner.

"I think she will be much, much better at a mile and a sixteenth or a mile and an eighth," said Charmed Gift's jockey, Craig Perret. Charmed Gift and Lake Lady are on course for a rematch in the Feb. 16 Silverbulletday Stakes, a Grade 3 run at one and one-sixteenth miles.

Lake Lady, the heavy favorite, paid $2.80 to win was timed in 1:38.17, .19 seconds slower than Easyfromthegitgo in the Lecomte. Emeraldforajudge finished a distant third.