Came Home the winner of the Pacific Classic with Mike Smith up.
The crowd of 36,041, third largest in Del Mar history, came to the oceanside track to watch the best horses of the west coast contest the Grade 1 Pacific Classic with its $1 million purse. As expected, War Emblem was sent off as the 6-5 favorite off his wins in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Haskell Invitational. Also in the race were second choice Milwaukee Brew at almost 4-1 off his win in the Santa Anita Handicap, and Came Home, winner of the Santa Anita Derby and the Swaps Stakes, who was seemingly dismissed at 10.5-1. His high odds were attributed to common belief that he is a middle distance runner who cannot go further than a mile and an eighth. He proved them wrong today.
War Emblem, ridden by Victor Espinoza, broke a step slow from the gate but was in striking position until the top of the stretch where he took a brief lead. However, he was confronted immediately by eventual winner Came Home, then appeared to tire through the stretch, winding up a well-beaten sixth.
Came Home took command in the stretch as War Emblem tired and then held off the late challenge of Momentum to win by 3/4 of a length in 2:01.45 for the 1 1/4 mile distance over a fast main track. Milwaukee Brew rallied from as far back as second-last early to be third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Momentum and a 1/2 length in front of fourth-place Pleasantly Perfect in the field of 14 horses.
The Pacific Classic|
Purse: $1,000,000 Distance: 1 1/4 miles
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1A Came Home Smith 23.00 9.60 5.80 3 Momentum Gomez 5.80 3.80 8 Milwaukee Brew Desormeaux 3.20
Came Home runs out after his win. Winning trainer Paco Gonzalez said, "Everyone else said he's not a mile-and-a-quarter horse. We showed them today. The race set up perfect. We got right behind War Emblem, four feet behind him, and Mike gave him a perfect ride. I never had a doubt about a mile and a quarter [for him]. If we had any doubts we wouldn't run him. Everybody else was saying he was not a mile and a quarter horse. They were saying the only way he could get a mile and a quarter was to get in a helicopter."
Beaten favorite War Emblem in the post parade. Victor Espinoza, aboard beaten favorite War Emblem, said, "He wasn't ready to break and we came away a little too slow. I didn't want to rush him to try to make the lead. I just had to be patient. Turning for home I felt he might go, but it wasn't there at the end." Trainer Bob Baffert added, "I kind of think he caught him up in the air. But once he got going, I was wishing I had a radio to tell Victor to hold him up. I think the starter sort of overcompensated, and that was one of the worst things -- for the gate to open at that time when he was still walking."
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