08/18/2002 11:00PM

Cat's at Home leads all the way in Iselin


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Cat's at Home won his second stakes of the meet with a wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 2, $350,000 Iselin Handicap. Cat's at Home, at 10-1, won by three-quarters of a length over second choice Bowman's Band, with Runspastum a neck farther back in third in the 1 1/8-mile race.

Include, the lone Grade 1 winner in the field and the 1-2 favorite, finished sixth in the seven-horse field, beaten 16 lengths. Include's jockey, Jerry Bailey declined to comment on the race and trainer Bud Delp said Include looked like he pulled up okay.

Jockey Jose Velez Jr. seized the lead out of the gate with Cat's at Home, with Gerosa pressing him through the first quarter-mile. After setting moderate fractions of 23.16 and 47.23, Cat's at Home picked up the pace going into the final turn, at which point Include was far back and under a steady whip. Bowman's Band made a menacing move turning for home and Runspastum lodged his bid behind him.

In the stretch, Bowman's Band got to within a head of Cat's at Home under left-handed whipping from jockey Eibar Coa, and Runspastum surged along the three path under Julian Pimentel. Cat's at Home held them both off and covered the nine furlongs in 1:49.10 before a crowd of 14,174.

"Nobody pressured me, so I was able to set the race the way I wanted," said Velez, who rode Cat's at Home for the first time. "At the five-sixteenths pole I saw someone swinging out behind me so I asked my horse then. I figured the horse angling out behind me was Include, but it wasn't; it was Coa's horse [Bowman's Band]. He got up to me, but my horse just kept digging and digging."

* In the undercard stakes, Most Feared ($10.60) won the $50,000 Continental Mile; To Marquet ($21.60) led wire-to-wire in the $65,000 Regret Stakes; Cat Rocket ($36.60) took the $65,000 Post Deb Stakes; and Our Wildcat ($19.80) won his third race in a row in the $65,000 Rumson Stakes.