James Tafel's Lakenheath breezed a half-mile in :47 3/5 over the Arlington Park surface the morning of Aug. 29 in preparation for her upcoming engagement in Monday's Arlington Matron (gr. III).
The special Labor Day card is one of only two Monday programs offered at Arlington during the 2002 season, and the 66th running of the Matron, Arlington's traditional premier event for fillies and mares, is the featured event of the holiday program.
Lakenheath, who finished a close third in last year's running while still a 3-year-old, returns with an added year of maturity. "She's as good as she's ever been," said trainer Gene Cilio, shortly after Lakenheath's breeze. "She's 101% right now, she's back on her home track, and it will take a really good effort for somebody to beat her."
In her last trip to the post in the Gardenia Handicap (gr. III) at Ellis Park Aug. 10, Lakenheath finished second, beaten 1 3/4 lengths by Lucky 7 Stable's Minister's Baby. That rival is an Arlington Matron nominee but is not to start.
"She kind of defeated herself that day," said Cilio, who traveled to the Western Kentucky oval to saddle Lakenheath in the Gardenia. "There was a horse on the inside of her and another horse came up on her outside right at the half-mile pole. She got distracted and ducked back out of there. At the three-eighths pole she got to the outside again and was eating up ground in the late stages.
"Now, however, she's back on her home grounds," Cilio said. "With Ability nd Your Out are two tough horses that are expected to go in there, but we're on our home ground and I'm very confident that Lakenheath will give a good account of herself."
How did Lakenheath get her name?
"She's named for an Air Force base in England where Mr. Tafel was stationed during World War II," Cilio said.