12/12/2002 12:00AM

Piensa Sonando: Right place, right time


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Piensa Sonando, one of trainer Ron McAnally's recent acquisitions from South America, may be arriving in the California handicap division at an ideal time.

With no clear-cut leader in the older horse division, Piensa Sonando is in a field with little depth in Saturday's $100,000, 1 1/8-mile Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park.

A victory would propel Piensa Sonando into the preps for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 1, although McAnally hesitates to think that far ahead.

"That's a long way off," McAnally said with a laugh. "Let's hope he keeps going well." In Chile in 2001, Piensa Sonando was group stakes-placed. Since joining McAnally's stable, he has finished third in a seven-furlong optional claimer at Santa Anita on Oct. 2 and returned three weeks later to win a one-mile optional claimer, making up five lengths in the stretch.

"He really ran well," McAnally said of the win. "We've been waiting for a place to run. This is the first chance." Piensa Sonando is one of two starters in the Native Diver field coming off a victory. Fleetstreet Dancer won an optional claimer on Nov. 11, but will be a longshot in the Native Diver.

Piensa Sonando carries 116 pounds, two less than highweighted Euchre, the runner-up in this race last year. Trained by Bobby Frankel, Euchre is winless in nine races, dating back to the Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows in July 2001. Most recently, Euchre was second in an allowance race on Nov. 22.

Five-year-old Grey Memo carries 117 pounds has had the best year of any member of the Native Diver field. He has won 2 of 9 starts and $808,000, with wins coming in the $1 million Godolphin Mile and the San Diego Handicap.

A confirmed closer, Grey Memo will be helped by the presence of Gentle Giant, a recent allowance race winner. Gentle Giant will set the pace, but may face pressure from Daunting.

Dig for It, who holds the track record here for 1 3/16 miles, and Nose the Trade, an invader from England also start.

Dig for It was third in the $1 million Pacific Classic in 2001, but has not had the same form this year, winning once in eight starts.

Nose the Trade won two races on the English all-weather circuit earlier this year but was uncompetitive in some of that country's top handicap races on turf in recent months.