Smith Guides Came Home to Easy Victory in Swaps

Came Home had a different rider in Sunday's Swaps Stakes (gr. II) at Hollywood Park, but the results were the same as they have been in eight of his 10 previous starts: a comfortable victory. The 3-year-old colt by Gone West scored a 1 1/4-length, front-running win over Like a Hero as a prohibitive 1-2 choice in the betting.

In the saddle aboard the Paco Gonzalez-trained Came Home for the first time was Mike Smith, who was named to replace recently retired Chris McCarron -- the Hall of Famer who had ridden the colt in all of his previous starts. Breaking from the six post in the seven horse field, Came Home faced an early challenge from 16-1 longshot Battler Bob, who pushed him through a quarter-mile in :23.51, a half in :47.06, and six furlongs in 1:10.73 on a fast track.

Came Home kicked away from Battler Bob turning into the stretch and opened up a commanding lead with a furlong to run. Like a Hero came through along the rail, then switched to the outside under Laffit Pincay Jr., but was no match for the winner, who was under a hand ride from Smith. Came Home covered the nine furlongs in 1:48.28 after a mile clocking in 1:35.38. Like a Hero was 5 1/2 lengths ahead of Fonz's, the third-place finisher. Completing the order of finish were Battler Bob, Gobi Dan, Tracemark, and Sugar Babe.

Came Home paid $3 to win.

Smith said Came Home was such an easy horse to ride he could almost "feel guilty" taking a check for the win. "He's learned to relax next to a horse," Smith said. "You get a horse that learns to relax like that, man they're dangerous."

"Today he ran one of his best races," said Gonzalez, who said no decision has been made where Came Home will race next. "We've got to see in a couple of days and decide where to go."

Came Home's only two career losses came when seventh behind Johannesburg in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) last fall and this spring's Kentucky Derby (gr. I), where he finished sixth behind War Emblem. The colt, produced from the Clever Trick mare Nice Assay, was bred by John Toffan and Trudy McCaffery. He is owned by a partnership of Toffan, McCaffery, Will Farish's Lane's End, and John Goodman.

(Chart, Equibase)