06/29/2002 11:00PM

Coa wins three stakes races


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Jockey Eibar Coa had a week to remember at Monmouth.

Coa started the week with five wins on Wednesday, ended the week with four wins on Sunday, and totaled 12 for the week. Over the weekend, Coa won all three stakes races - the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Handicap Saturday and the $50,000 Dearly Precious Stakes and $50,000 Skip Away Stakes on Sunday.

In the Skip Away Stakes, Coa guided multiple Grade 3 winner Cat's At Home, trained by Mark Hennig, to a front-running victory in the 1 1/16 race for older horses. Cat's At Home ($5.40) increased his lead down the stretch, crossing the wire in 1:42.78, to win by 5 1/2 lengths over Sea of Tranquility before 11,759. Twilight Prince was a neck back in third.

"It wasn't the plan to be on the lead, but he broke so well I figured I'd let him go," Coa said. "Around I had so much horse left, I knew they wouldn't catch me."

Cat's At Home, a 5-year-old, made his 2002 debut over a muddy track here June 7 in a money allowance, and ran second by a neck over a surface he hadn't cared for in the past. Last year, he won the Grade 3 Excelsior and Grade 3 Westchester Handicap at Aqueduct. Hennig, who ran second in the Molly Pitcher Saturday with Summer Colony, trains the horse Edward Evans. Cat's At Home improved to 8-4-1 in 24 career starts.

* Wish It Were, the even-money favorite, rated right behind a rapid pace set by Haunted Lass and Al Max Diner, and wore down Haunted Lass by a neck to win the $50,000 Dearly Precious Stakes at six furlongs for 3-year-old fillies. School for Scandal was third.

Wish It Were ($4), trained by Tim Hills, covered the distance in 1:09.68 with Coa aboard. Owned by Gregory Mascera, Wish It Were improved to 3-1-0 in four career starts.