08/05/2004 12:00AM

Bettors still cool to Souvenir Gift


DEL MAR, Calif. - Unbeaten but somewhat lacking in respect, Souvenir Gift will attempt to win her third stakes in Saturday's $150,000 Sorrento Stakes for 2-year-olds fillies at Del Mar.

Just like the Cinderella Stakes and the Grade 3 Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park, will not be favored in the Grade 3 Sorrento over 6 1/2 furlongs. That role will go to Inspiring, a flashy maiden winner at Hollywood who is trained by Bob Baffert.

Souvenir Gift will be the second choice in the betting, a position that trainer and co-owner Sam Semkin insists does not bother him.

"I don't worry too much about it," he said. "I'm a country boy down on the farm, what do I know? If they want to underestimate her, so be it.

"On experience alone, that horse of Baffert's will have to be something awesome to beat her. In my opinion, my filly is head and shoulders better than the rest. Until they outrun her, I won't be convinced."

Souvenir Gift ran by far her best race in the Landaluce. Sent off at 4-1, she rallied from third in the final furlong to win by 1 1/4 lengths, showing a remarkable turn of foot.

Inspiring has an opposite style. In her debut over five furlongs on July 5, she was close to a quick pace and pulled away to win by four lengths.

"She didn't break sharp. She's much quicker than that," Baffert said. "She's exciting."

will have company on the front. Timeintown, unbeaten in two starts, led throughout the Juan Gonzalez Stakes at the Alameda County Fair on July 3.

, also trained by Baffert, and Hello Lucky, a shipper from Calder, have shown speed. Excusabull and the longshot Wise Investor won maiden races on turf at Hollywood. Hello Lucky is making her first start for trainer Christopher Paasch.

Semkin, who co-owns Souvenir Gift with Greg Unruh, wanted an outside post, but drew post 4. He expects jockey Mike Smith to take Souvenir Gift off the pace.

"The more speed, the better for me," Semkin said. "I tell Mike the same thing every time: The longer you can wait, the more horse you'll have at the end. It's his judgment when he thinks he needs to go. She has a tremendous turn of foot. I'd like to see an easier race than the Landaluce."

That may not be possible on Saturday in a field that includes Inspiring, the latest challenger to Souvenir Gift's unbeaten record.