08/29/2002 12:00AM

Came Home, another notch on Gone West's belt


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Although some knowledgeable judges had figured that Came Home was unsuited to distances as long as 10 furlongs, the talented 3-year-old colt showed that 1 1/4 miles was within his compass when he won the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Sunday.

Doubts about the colt's stamina arose principally from his pedigree: His sire is the high-class Mr. Prospector stallion Gone West, and his dam is the stakes-winning mare Nice Assay, by Clever Trick out of a Full Out mare. Clever Trick and Full Out generated the most concern about Came Home's distance capacity, since both were sprinters and tend to sire horses of similar type.

Even Gone West tends to sire horses who find their best form at a mile but have the class to carry them a bit farther. Among Gone West's racers who have succeeded at the top level over distances beyond 1 1/8 miles are Belmont winner Commendable, Rothmans International winner Lassigny, and now Came Home. (Proud Citizen ran second in the Kentucky Derby and Castle Gandolfo was second in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud last year.)

Trudy McCaffery, who bred and owns Came Home in partnership, had expressed faith in his ability to go a distance, and his owners were well rewarded with the victory. Alice Chandler stands Gone West at Mill Ridge Farm outside Lexington; she said, "Came Home has so much class, so much maturity, and is so amenable to rating that he is the perfect soldier. When it comes to the Gone Wests going a distance, the sire gives them speed and quality, and their heart and maturity carry them on to success."

In taking his ninth victory from 11 starts, Came Home added another dimension to his portfolio as a prospective stallion. With the Pacific Classic joined to his victories in the Grade 1 Hopeful last year and in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby this spring, the colt's success at 10 furlongs makes him the most rounded stallion prospect of his crop, showing high class as a juvenile and at a variety of distances.

This consideration will become most important when he goes to stud at Lane's End Farm, which purchased an interest in Came Home about a year ago and will stand him when he is retired.

When that day comes, the racing success and pedigree of Came Home will make him one of the hottest properties in Kentucky because of the current and growing success of Gone West as a sire of stallions. Chandler said, "We're immensely excited about Gone West as a sire of sires. His son Mr. Greeley is having a banner year, Elusive Quality already has a Group 1 winner from his first runners, and Commendable has some lovely foals in his first crop."

Among Gone West's proven sons, the English-based Zafonic was the leading freshman sire in Europe; West by West sired a half-dozen stakes winners in his first crop, including Sorority winner Appealing Phylly; and Mr. Greeley has Nonsuch Bay, winner of the Grade 1 Mother Goose, among his current crop of 3-year-olds.

In addition to Nonsuch Bay, Mr. Greeley's 15 stakes winners include Grade 1 winners El Corredor and Celtic Melody. The handsome and powerful chestnut Mr. Greeley sires a very appealing type of horse, and horsemen have sought them out since they were first offered at the sales. This, in addition to the stallion's successes with his racing progeny, has made him a very solid commercial stallion, and he is the leading sire standing at famed Spendthrift Farm.

At the upcoming Keeneland September yearling sales, Mr. Greeley is the sire of a half-sister to recent Group 1 Prix Morny winner Elusive City, who is by leading freshman sire Elusive Quality, another son of Gone West. The bay half-sister to Elusive City is out of the Dayjur mare Star of Paris, and although the filly was cataloged before her half-brother started, she will be scrutinized carefully by yearling buyers. If her looks meet with approval, she is very likely to bring the high price of her session, even though she is cataloged as Hip No. 2256 in Book 4 of the six-volume Keeneland auction.

The selected yearlings that sell at the beginning of the two-week auction include several by Gone West, who has 10 colts and 10 fillies among the elite in Book 1. Some of the highlights of his stock offered for sale are a chestnut half-sister to Grade 1 winner Vicar (consigned by Winter Quarter Farm as Hip No. 198), a colt out of Adirondack winner Salty Perfume (Denali Stud, Hip No. 334), a full brother to Commendable (Lakland, Hip No. 445), a half-sister to the unbeaten 2-year-old Handpainted out of Touch Gold's stakes-winning full sister Daijin (Hill 'n' Dale, Hip No. 480), and a half-sister to Minister's Melody (Mill Ridge, Hip No. 603). Among Gone West's sons, Grand Slam has a baker's dozen in the sale's first book, and Mr. Greeley has young athletes scattered throughout the sale. Elusive Quality has 41 yearlings cataloged, and they are spread from Book 2 through Book 6.