Updated on 09/16/2011 6:54AM

Came Home stretch-out raises curiosity

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Came Home is clearly one of the best 3-year-olds of his generation. He has won 4 of 5 starts, and three times has run Beyer Speed Figures of at least 105, including a 109 in a four-length romp in the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes four weeks ago.

He will be favored to add to his victory total in Saturday's $200,000 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita, and that would make him no worse than the second-best colt on the West Coast, behind Siphonic.

Yet Came Home exemplifies one of the realities of many in this year's Kentucky Derby crop - he is fast, but his distance capabilities are in question. He has never won beyond seven furlongs. His only try beyond that, in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Cup Juvenile, resulted in his lone loss, a seventh-place finish. The one-mile San Rafael will be his first attempt at two turns.

Fortunately for Came Home, he is being handled by a trainer and an ownership group that have a firm grasp of reality. They believe Came Home can handle a mile, but make no pronouncements for anything beyond, such as the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby on April 6.

"We're just looking at this race," Paco Gonzalez, the trainer of Came Home, said Wednesday morning at Santa Anita. "If he looks fine going a mile, we might take a chance at the Santa Anita Derby. If not, we'll just find another race. If it looks like he's a sprinter in this race, why try to go far? The worst thing is to be crazy."

Came Home drew post 6 when nine were entered on Wednesday in the San Rafael. Like Came Home, several of his primary rivals - such as Cottonwood Cowboy and Werblin - are questionable around two turns. The others entered in the race are Calkins Road, Fonz's, Ocean Sound, Pelirrojo, Major Storm, and Easy Grades.

Came Home won Saratoga's Hopeful Stakes and the Hollywood Juvenile Championship last year. In his five starts, he has raced at four different tracks, and he twice last year was flown to races in New York. It was an ambitious schedule, and after the Breeders' Cup, he got a deserved break.

"Running four times last year, going this way and that, it takes a lot out of a horse," Gonzalez said. "He's training very good going into this race. I don't think a mile is going to be a problem."

The distance is a bigger question for , who faded in the San Vicente to finish third, four lengths behind Came Home, in his first loss. He has never raced beyond seven furlongs, and he needs a dynamic effort to stay on the Derby trail. "He deserves a chance to try a mile," said Eduardo Inda, who trains Werblin. "If it doesn't work out, we can go from there."

The San Rafael is the most important of three stakes races for 3-year-olds on Saturday. The other races are the $100,000 Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park and the $75,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Request for Parole, Perfect Drift, and Thunder On Land - the first three finishers in the WEBN-Frog Stakes on Feb. 2 - meet unbeaten Piston in the 1 1/16-mile Battaglia, a prep for the $500,000 Lane's End Spiral Stakes on March 23. A field of eight or nine is expected.

"He's doing good, as good as he was doing going into his last race," said Steve Margolis, trainer of Request for Parole.

The one-mile Southwest will have a large field, and could be split if as many as 17 or 18 enter. The ones to watch are unbeaten Clergy, along with Rylstone, Private Emblem, and Cojet, who got a freaky-fast 103 Beyer Speed Figure in a six-furlong allowance race at Oaklawn on Feb. 10.

In other Derby developments:

- Neil Drysdale was in Florida this week, at the 2-year-old sale, and had yet to see Sunday Break since his allowance victory last week at Santa Anita, so the trainer said his plans for the colt are uncertain. His options would seem to include the March 17 San Felipe at Santa Anita or the March 16 Gotham at Aqueduct. Or, he could wait another week for either the Spiral Stakes at Turfway or the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn.

- After examining their options, trainers Bob Baffert and Jerry Hollendorfer have decided to run Danthebluegrassman and U S S Tinosa, respectively, in the San Felipe, which is also the next scheduled start for Siphonic.

- One horse who will not run in the San Felipe is Mayakovsky. Trainer Patrick Biancone said Mayakovsky will make his comeback in the Gotham, with Edgar Prado riding. Saratoga Blues also will make his next start in the Gotham, trainer Tony Dutrow said.

- Saarland is also scheduled to run in the Gotham in his first start of the year. Trainer Shug McGaughey on Wednesday said Saarland would fly to New York from Florida one week before the Gotham.

- Thursday night's United Arab Emirates 2000 Guineas was scheduled to include six 3-year-olds owned by Godolphin Racing Inc.: Dubai Edition, Dubai Tiger, Essence of Dubai, Firebreak, Henri Lebasque, and Janadel. Not running is King's Consul, who wasn't even nominated to the race, suggesting he is behind his stablemates at this point. Godolphin Racing manager Simon Crisford said the $5.3 million yearling is in training, but his next start has yet to be determined.

- additional reporting by Glenye Cain and Mary Rampellini

DERBY UPDATE

WHO'S HOT

It's Jerry Bailey's world, and we're just living in it. Bailey already had the mounts on Siphonic and Blue Burner, and now has added Repent to his arsenal. Nice hit. An impressive allowance victory last week at Santa Anita has propelled Sunday Break onto the Derby Watch's top 25 for the first time. He is 30-1 on the future line set by Mike Watchmaker of Daily Racing Form.

WHO'S NOT

You have to feel sorry for Tony D'Amico, who lost the mount on Harlan's Holiday last week and this week was bumped off Repent. But it's understandable. Trainer Kenny McPeek took a page from the Bob Brenly school of managing. In the seventh game of the World Series, Brenly, the Diamondbacks manager, brought in Randy Johnson with the game on the line. Monthir has been dropped from the top 25 after losing in an entry-level allowance race last week at Gulfstream Park.

ON THE BUBBLE

Thursday night's United Arab Emirates 2000 Guineas ought to produce a newcomer to the list for next week. Perhaps it will be Essence of Dubai, who won the Norfolk Stakes last year, and was one of six Godolphin Racing-owned 3-year-olds entered in the 2000 Guineas. Best Turn winner Smooth Jazz is also knocking on the door, though he may be strictly a sprinter.