02/02/2002 12:00AM

Came Home impressive in San Vicente

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Came Home, the winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga last year, won his 3-year-old debut in Saturday's $150,000 * at Santa Anita.

Making his first start since finishing seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park last October, Came Home ($3.40) closed from fourth on the backstretch to win the third stakes of his career in the Grade 2 San Vicente.

Ridden by Chris McCarron, Came Home was on the inside early, following Werblin, Popular, and Mighty David, who contributed to a pace of 22.58 and 44.81 seconds.

McCarron switched Came Home to the outside on the final turn and caught the front-runners in early stretch. Continuing a wide rally, Came Home pulled away to win by four lengths, finishing seven furlongs in 1:21.92. Jack's Silver, the longest shot in the field at 45-1, closed from last to finish second, a head in front of Werblin. Popular, the winner of the San Miguel Stakes last month, faded in the final furlong to finish fourth.

Came Home has won 4 of 5 starts and $301,440. Owned by Will Farish, John Goodman, Trudy McCaffery, and John Toffan, Came Home is trained by Paco Gonzalez.

"He's a very smart horse," Gonzalez said. "We learned a lot today. He can rate and he can go a little farther."

By Gone West, Came Home will be pointed for the $200,000 San Rafael Stakes at a mile on March 2.

Ta Ta Be True wins, returns sore

Jockey Patrick Valenzuela won his first stakes in more than two years in the $150,000 Pro or Con Handicap aboard Ta Ta Be True ($32.60), who was vanned off the track after the race.

Valenzuela, who missed most of 2000 and 2001 due to substance abuse problems, reported that Ta Ta Be True "felt a little sore."

Ta Ta Be True rallied from fifth to beat Stetson Lady by a length. A 7-year-old trained by Jack Van Berg, Ta Ta Be True finished a mile on turf in 1:35.89. Super Tuesday finished third in the race for California-bred fillies and mares.

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