09/18/2001 11:00PM

Southern House will lead at Fairplex

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POMONA, Calif. - Inflexible front-runner Southern House and campaign-toughened Mimi's Cafe collide Friday in the $100,000 Las Madrinas Handicap at Fairplex Park. Ten fillies and mares entered the 1 1/16-mile race in which the current form of the principals stands out.

Southern House has been setting the pace in high-priced claimers, while Mimi's Cafe seeks her third stakes win of summer. Those two and Garden in the Rain are 118-pound highweights in the premier filly-mare race of the Los Angeles County Fair meet. Challengers include Pio Pico winner Warren's Whistle, 10-for-28 claimer Revillew Slew, and sprinter Parade of Gold. Win or lose, Southern House is the one to catch.

"She's a fast horse and she doesn't like to be rated," trainer Barry Abrams said. "She'll go as fast as she can, as far as she can." In the the two races she won this year, said Abrams, "the jockey just gave her the reins and steered her around the track." On Friday, it will not be easy.

Pace-pressing sprinter Parade of Gold intensifies the pace scenario, and impairs the chances of Southern House to win at a distance possibly beyond her preference. "I think she'll go the distance, as long as no one goes kamikaze with her," Abrams said. Southern House, who set the pace and tired midstretch in two starts this summer at Del Mar, has won six races and $237,673 from 31 starts. Omar Berrio will ride.

While Southern House is the likely pacesetter, bettors will consider Mimi's Cafe the likeliest winner. The 4-year-old is making her 11th start of the year for trainer Terry Knight, who said "She's a tough horse. I've run her a lot, and she keeps responding. She keeps telling me she's not ready for a break."

Mimi's Cafe, 6 for 26 with a $300,267 career bankroll, has won stakes this summer on dirt and turf, and should land a good trip right behind the speed. "You can pretty much place her where you want," Knight noted, adding "she has one quick burst of speed."

Russell Baze will ride Mimi's Cafe. Baze and Knight teamed Tuesday to win the Bangles and Beads Stakes with Creaseinherjeans, the first winning stakes favorite of the meet.

The Las Madrinas field includes Garden in the Rain, claimed for $100,000 last out by Steve Trevino, from Julio Canani, before her Pio Pico win, while leading jockey Martin Pedroza rides Revillew Slew. Pedroza begins a five-day suspension Sept. 26 for a Sept. 17 riding infraction.