08/15/2001 11:00PM

Aviate in spot for rare victory

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Aviate, who has been racing well in Southern California, rates the edge over six other fillies and mares in the $40,000 Lady Morvich Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the grass at Bay Meadows Saturday.

Aviate, from the Ted West barn, has only one win since June 1999, and that was a dead heat in a $125,000 claiming race at Santa Anita in February. However, Aviate, a 5-year-old daughter of Lord Avie, has been close in several stakes. She was fourth, beaten only two lengths, in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap in March, and fifth, beaten a little more than three lengths, in the Miss America Handicap at Bay Meadows.

Since the Miss America, she has finished third in a pair of tough allowance races at Hollywood Park.

Aviate has been freshened for about 2 1/2 months, but has a strong work pattern and seems set for a strong effort.

The main threats to the top choice appear to be Mimi's Cafe and Casa's Kids.

Mimi's Cafe, trained by Terry Knight, has been racing well on the fairs recently and, like Aviate, she has been close in good company down south. In her last two starts, she won the Alameda County Fillies and Mares Handicap at Pleasanton and finished second in the Luther Burbank at Santa Rosa.

Casa's Kids went rapidly through her allowance conditions. After a third-level allowance win on May 14 at Bay Meadows, she finished fourth in the Palo Alto Handicap, also at Bay Meadows, on June 2.