12/07/2012 2:43PM

Hollywood Park: Home Journey making stakes debut in Soviet Problem

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Benoit & Associates
Home Journey’s latest victory was by 8 1/4 lengths after she led throughout.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The two wins that Home Journey has compiled this fall are not a surprise to trainer Mike Puype.

“She just wants to win,” he said. “She wins her works and she wins in the afternoon.”

So far, Home Journey has prevailed in a maiden race at Santa Anita on Oct. 13, at 26-1, and an allowance race at Betfair Hollywood Park on Nov. 9, as the 5-2 favorite. She will be favored again in her stakes debut, Sunday’s $200,000 Soviet Problem Stakes for 2-year-old California-bred fillies over seven furlongs at Hollywood Park.

The Soviet Problem Stakes will be run for the first time Sunday. The race is in the Golden State Series, a series of stakes for California-breds launched earlier this year.

The Soviet Problem Stakes drew a field of eight, including the stakes winners Tilde and Unusual Way.

Home Journey’s latest victory, by 8 1/4 lengths after leading throughout, proved that her maiden race was not a fluke. In recent workouts, Puype said she has been schooled to rate behind horses and not just take the lead.

“She waits behind horses and she can finish,” he said. “She’s not a big or attractive-looking horse, but she wants to win.”

Home Journey attracted little attention before her debut. She was the seventh choice in a field of 11 for that race in October.

“She didn’t have a big work tab going in,” Puype said.

Home Journey must show patience to win the Soviet Problem. Unusual Way, who won the Wine Country Debutante at Santa Rosa in August and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Sprint Preview at Santa Anita on Nov. 3, has ample speed. She beat maidens here in her debut May 5, but was well beaten in her next two starts – finishing seventh in the Cinderella Stakes in June and eighth in the Landaluce Stakes in July.

“We gave her a spacing [between races], and she responded,” trainer Jeff Bonde said. “She’s a lot more professional.”

Unusual Way drew the rail. Bonde said he wants to see the final field, and if there are any late scratches, before forming a plan for Unusual Way.

“I don’t think she absolutely has to have” the lead, he said.

Tilde is the most accomplished runner in the field, having won 4 of 6 starts and $332,560. She won three stakes for California-breds from July to October, including the Generous Portion Stakes for sprinters at Del Mar and the California Cup Juvenile Fillies over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Oct. 13. In her last start, she was sixth in the Sharp Cat Stakes over 1 1/16 miles against open company here Nov. 11.

“I think she’ll like one turn better than two turns,” owner-trainer Mike Harrington said. “She did get beat up a little bit last time, so she had a little excuse.

“This will be the toughest group of Cal-breds that she’s faced. It’s not an easy race.”