01/11/2007 12:00AM

Race will help sort out 3-year-old form


ARCADIA, Calif. - In a reflection of the wide-open nature of Saturday's $150,000 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita, only one of the seven entrants has more than one victory.

The race, for 3-year-olds, may lack a standout, but it will determine whether some in the field deserve to start in further preps for the Santa Anita Derby in April.

"They're 3-year-olds, and people want to see where they fit in the picture," said trainer David Hofmans, who starts the maiden winner Silent Soul. "If you don't start now, you'll never know."

Four of the seven runners have started in stakes, with mixed results; three come off a maiden victory.

Silent Soul and Notional finished fifth and sixth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 16. Hofmans is hoping that Silent Soul can improve from that race after an impressive win in a maiden race on turf in November.

"I think he deserves another chance," Hofmans said. "He had a pretty rough trip" in the Futurity.

Notional will add blinkers for the one-mile San Rafael. Notional was third in the seven-furlong Hollywood Prevue Stakes in November in his stakes debut, and closed from ninth in the Futurity to finish 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner, Stormello.

"He's a horse with a ton of talent," said Doug O'Neill, Notional's trainer. "We want to keep him a little closer" to the pace.

O'Neill also starts the former maiden claimer Tap It Light, who was second in the California Breeders Champion Stakes at seven furlongs on Dec. 26.

The last-out maiden winners - Grapelli, Soldier, and Tenfold - will play significant roles. Grapelli looked sharp beating maidens at Hollywood Park on Dec. 3, his fifth start.

Soldier is making his first start since beating maidens in October. He was briefly out of training in the fall because of illness, trainer Ron McAnally said.

"He's been ready to run for the last three weeks," McAnally said.

Trainer Bob Baffert starts Tenfold, the front-running winner of a seven-furlong maiden race on Dec. 26.

"I think he's the kind of horse that needs racing," Baffert said. "He'll be a two-turn horse."

Half Famous, an invader from Turf Paradise, is making his graded stakes debut in the San Rafael. He is the lone multiple winner in the field, having won 2 of 7 starts, including the Lost in the Fog Juvenile on Dec. 31.