02/06/2007 1:00AM

Sham Stakes preview


Santa Anita - Race 7
1 1/8 Miles
Sham Stakes (Grade 3)
Purse $100,000.

SILENT SOUL was no match for odds-on Notional in the Grade 2 San Rafael, but he was forced to make a premature move chasing a loose pacesetter, and that may have compromised his late kick. Although he has yet to win on the main track, Silent Soul may appreciate facing a slighly weaker bunch in the Sham Stakes, and should offer some wagering value.
RAVEL may have the most natural talent of the bunch, and the well-bred son of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus handled next-out 86 Beyer graduate Level Red in his maiden win at Hollywood. He should work out a nice trip from the rail, but will take money based on his pedigree and connections, and he's never raced over a conventional dirt surface. SONG OF NAVARONE seems overmatched from a Beyer perspective, but the stretchout sprinter catches a field without much early zip, and may try to steal this one on the front end.
PIRATES DEPUTY has shown a strong closing kick in most of his races, but he may need a bit more pace up front to set him up. It's always dangerous to discount a Baffert-trained runner in a 3-year-old stakes race. LIQUIDITY has good tactical speed, and may gain first run on Song of Navarone going into the final turn. He broke his maiden here sprinting, but hasn't gained ground from the stretch call to the wire in his three route starts. TIME SQUARES cost seven figures last year, and adds Lasix for very dangerous barn. He's still a maiden, however, and will need to break better from the gate.

1. Silent Soul
2. Ravel
3. Song of Navarone