Updated on 09/16/2011 7:56AM

Came Home passes first distance test

Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Came Home (fourth from left) runs by Werblin, on his inside, en route to a three-length victory in Saturday's one-mile San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita. The 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby could be next for Came Home.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Came Home, in a thoroughly dominating performance, raced to a three-length victory in Saturday's $200,000 at Santa Anita, an effort that likely will embolden his owners to stretch out Came Home another furlong in next month's Santa Anita Derby.

Came Home stalked the early pace of Werblin, wrested the lead from that rival at the top of the stretch, and drew clear while being merely ridden out by his jockey, Chris McCarron. Easy Grades rallied sharply for second after a wide trip, beating Werblin by a head.

Ocean Sound, Fonz's, Pelirrojo, and Cottonwood Cowboy completed the finish.

Racing on a track that was fast yet a bit dull, Came Home was timed in 1:36.24 for a mile and paid $3.20 to win as the favorite. The victory was his fifth in six starts, his lone loss coming in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile. A son of Gone West, Came Home won the Hopeful Stakes and Hollywood Juvenile last year. He is owned by a partnership that includes Will Farish, John Goodman, Trudy McCaffery, and John Toffan.

Paco Gonzalez, the trainer of Came Home, was anxious before the race, because this was Came Home's first try around two turns. Came Home balked when he arrived at the gate before being loaded. But Gonzalez was visibly relieved after the race.

"I'm happy now," he said, smiling. "I was nervous. He ran pretty good. He was on the bridle much more today than last time. But at the half-mile pole, I could see he was relaxed."

Gonzalez conceded Came Home is almost compelled to run in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby on April 6.

"I'll leave it up to [Toffan] and the [other] owners," Gonzalez said. "But it looks like he could make that race. It all depends on what they say."

Fonz's disappointed his trainer and co-owner, David LaCroix, who blamed himself for the five-length defeat. "I don't think I had him tight enough," LaCroix said. "He didn't get beat that far."