01/15/2004 12:00AM

Avid Skier latest good one for Bennett


OLDSMAR, Fla. - After the demise of racing in the Detroit area in 1998, trainer Gerald Bennett dramatically downsized his large operation. In the last few years, he has rebuilt his stable and he is off to a good start at this meet with five wins and six seconds in 30 starts.

In Saturday's $60,000 Pasco Stakes for 3-year-olds, Avid Skier makes his first start since capturing an allowance race Oct. 31 at Mountaineer Park. Avid Skier, 2 for 2, was being pointed to the Inaugural Stakes here Dec. 13, but he spiked a fever just before the race.

"It wasn't anything serious, and we didn't miss much training, but we thought to be on the safe side and pass that race and wait for the Pasco," said Bennett. "He's a nice colt with a good temperament, and while he's got plenty of speed I don't think he has to be on the lead to win."

Bennett had Avid Skier work in company with an older horse Tuesday, and Avid Skier went four furlongs in 48.40, best of 57 works at the distance that morning.

"I think he could turn out to be a nice one, but you never know with young horses," Bennett said. "We'll find out Saturday."

Avid Skier will face a stiff test in the seven-furlong Pasco, with Inaugural runner-up Aloha Myra and impressive maiden winner Andiamo in the 11-horse field.

Aloha Myra looked like a winner turning into the stretch of the six-furlong Inaugural only to hang outside front-runner Tricks of Glory and finish second, beaten a length. Aloha Myra was coming off a five-week break before the Inaugural, and the added distance Saturday would appear to play in his favor. He breaks from the rail.

Andiamo didn't impress his trainer, Mike Zwiesler, with his attitude during training, but he came to play in his debut, romping home by more than 11 lengths and covering seven furlongs in 1:25.08. Andiamo has trained well since that race. A son of Rubiano from the Dixieland Band mare Skat Girl, Andiamo certainly won't step on his pedigree.

Texmckay, who turns back in distance off a turf allowance race, has divided his time between stakes and allowance company at Delaware Park and Retama Park in Texas.

Firespike, fifth in the Inaugural and a sharp winner of an allowance sprint next out, and Misguided Left, who was third in the Inaugural after being just a length off the lead a furlong out, also deserve consideration.