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HORSE RACING

Came Home Is Still Perfect at Hollywood Park

July 15, 2002|BOB MIESZERSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With a $500,000 purse and Came Home's perfect record at Hollywood Park on the line, jockey Mike Smith wasn't shy about asking for assistance before the Swaps Stakes.

About to ride the 3-year-old son of Gone West for the first time, Smith phoned Chris McCarron for some advice Saturday. Just back from an Alaska vacation, McCarron, who retired after Came Home improved to 3-0 in Inglewood with a two-length victory in the Affirmed Handicap on June 23, returned the call Sunday morning.

"He gave me his scenario about how he thought the race would shape up and what he thought he might do," Smith said. "It certainly gave me a lot more confidence."

Things worked out as McCarron--and the betting public--thought they would. The 1-2 favorite in the Grade II, Came Home led virtually from start to finish in a workmanlike performance.

At the wire, he had 1 1/4 lengths on 7-1 third choice Like A Hero while completing the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48 1/5.

It was the eighth victory in 10 starts for Came Home, who is owned by John Toffan, Trudy McCaffery, Bill Farish and John Goodman and trained by Paco Gonzalez. The dark bay's seventh graded stakes victory was worth $300,000 and pushed his career earnings to $1,235,940.

"Everything they told me about him was right on," Smith said after Toffan and McCaffery, who bred the winner, picked up their third Swaps victory. The pair had won previously with Bien Bien in 1992 and Free House in 1997.

"They said he would relax real well whether he was hooked on the lead or on his own. Paco told me in the paddock not to be afraid to take the lead if he breaks well enough to do it.

"It was good to get a win and find out a little bit more about him. He got to looking around a little bit in the stretch and I don't know what it was. I felt that if I hit him, there was certainly more there. He wasn't going to let anybody by."

Another trip east could be in Came Home's future. He has one road win on his resume, a victory in the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga last Sept. 1. In his other races outside California, he was seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park and sixth in the Kentucky Derby.

He could be headed to Saratoga again. Gonzalez mentioned the Jim Dandy Stakes on Aug. 4 and the King's Bishop on Aug. 24 as possibilities, along with the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, which also is Aug. 4. There is also a desire to try the grass at some point and Del Mar has an extensive turf program for 3-year-olds.

Five weeks after finishing a distant seventh in the Belmont Stakes, Like A Hero more than doubled his career bankroll by collecting $150,000 for completing the exacta.

*

Irguns Angel, a 5-1 shot, wore down Secret Liaison to win the $200,000 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Owned by Ron and Susie Anson and trained by Alfredo Marquez, the 4-year-old Irgun filly won for the third time in a row.

She completed the seven furlongs in 1:22 2/5.

Eddie Delahoussaye was the winning rider, subbing for the injured Jose Valdivia Jr.

*

Although Milwaukee Brew had to settle for third in the Hollywood Gold Cup, trainer Bobby Frankel did get some consolation.

Making his stakes debut for Frankel, Chiselling, ridden by Jerry Bailey, edged Finality by a nose to win the $150,000 Lexington Stakes at Belmont Park.

He ran the 1 1/4 miles on turf in 2:00 2/5.

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