Ravel Shows Composure in Sham Triumph
Photo: Benoit
Ravel and jockey Garrett Gomez win the Sham Stakes, Saturday at Santa Anita.
Ravel made an auspicious stakes debut in Saturday's $101,500 Sham Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds, rallying on the outside of favored Liquidity to register a one-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile event at Santa Anita.

With Garrett Gomez aboard for trainer Michael McCarthy (for the suspended Todd Pletcher), the stalking Ravel showed surprising maturity in his third lifetime start for owners Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.  He was timed in 1:48 4/5.

“I was actually kind of pleased he was able to sit behind horses," McCarthy said. "He got a good education today.

"I was very pleased. Into the first turn I thought he might have been a little aggressive. I saw Garrett pull back into the saddle once. I got a little worried that he might get a little headstrong. Up the back side he was great, tucked in behind horses, sitting very comfortable, always full of run. He was able to swing out. It was good.”

McCarthy indicated that Ravel would eventually be pointed to the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 7.

Breaking from the rail in the field of seven, Ravel raced on the inside of the bunched pack as 25-1 outsider Song of Navarone led Liquidity and Kolo through slow fractions of :23 1/5, :48 and 1:12 2/5. Gomez angled his youngster to the outside in the stretch and the son of Fusaichi Pegasus  --Let (by A.P. Indy) wore down Liquidity (Corey Nakatani) in the final stages.

“From the first time I sat on him and rode him in his maiden win, I had high hopes for him," Gomez said. "He can get a little warm-blooded being by Fusaichi Pegasus, but today he was very professional. He’s a big horse and I was able to find a spot with him there at the five sixteenth’s (pole) and he finished up like a mature colt. I like him.”

After a second-place finish in his debut at Keeneland in October, Ravel opened some eyes with a 3 1/2-length maiden victory at 1 1/16 miles in a time of 1:41 4/5 on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track Dec. 3. That time was faster than Stormello turned in two weeks later when winning the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) by  a neck over Liquidity. He was working in consistently strong fashion at Hollywood for his return. The victory, worth $60,900, pushed Ravel's earnings to $96,100.

Bred by G. Watts and Louise I. Humphrey, Ravel sold for $950,000 as a yearling at Keeneland in September 2005.

Sent off as the second choice, Ravel paid $7.20, $4 and $3.40. Liquidity, a son of Tiznow  , turned in a strong effort for trainer Doug O'Neill and returned $3.20 and $2.40 while finishing three lengths clear of Song of Navarone.

“He fought back," O'Neill said. "That’s what Corey was just saying. We might open up the blinkers a little bit. He wasn’t able to show his competitiveness with those blinkers on, but we’re proud of him. We’ll be all right.”

Song of Navarone, making his first start in California after racing in New Mexico in his first three outings for trainer Henry Dominguez, was $6.80 to show with Jon Court in the saddle.

Kolo finished fourth, followed by Silent Soul, Pirates Deputy and Time Squared.

(Chart, Equibase)

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