09/10/2005 12:00AM

Home of Stars last to first


On a day the young rider James Graham could do just about nothing wrong, Home of Stars showed he is just about as good on the turf as he is on dirt. One of the best Illinois-bred dirt route horses in recent seasons, Home of Stars beat a decent field of open horses in the $40,000 John Henry Stakes on Saturday at Arlington Park.

For Graham - ho hum - it was still another victory, his fourth on the day after only eight races.

"Everything went according to plan today," Graham said.

If trainer Bobby Springer's plan was to hold Home of Stars up in last behind a fast, contested pace in the John Henry, it worked out perfectly. Racing at the back of the pack, Home of Stars dropped far behind a quick opening half-mile in 47.60 seconds set by Big Glori, with the well-bet Gondolieri hot on his heels. Shaun Bridgmohan kept Gondolieri off the lead as long as he could, but let his horse out at the top of the stretch, briefly seizing the lead. Then it was time for the closers. First Lacer and Ole Faunty took their crack. Diplomatic Agent was running, too, but had traffic inside. Widest and last of all came Graham and Home of Stars.

Home of Stars cruised to the lead about 15 yards from the finish, and won by a neck over Lacer, who came home a head in front of Ole Faunty.

Home of Stars was timed in 1:42.11 for 1 1/16 miles over firm turf, and paid $8.40 to win.