Making just her second start, favored Weemissfrankie took the overland route for a confident Rafael Bejarano to win the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) impressively Sept. 3 (VIDEO).
Racing sixth on the turn, Weemissfrankie was pushed six paths wide as she exited the bend but mowed down her rivals through the lane to win by 1 1/4 lengths. She completed the seven-furlong test of 2-year-old fillies in 1:23.20 on Polytrack.
Trainer Peter Eurton earned his first graded stakes win with the New York-bred winning filly from the first crop of Sunriver out of the Meadowlake mare Starinthemeadow. The chestnut filly was named for the late Hollywood actor Frank Alesia, who was part of the ownership group with his wife Sharon. The other co-owners are Mike Mellen's Bran Jam Stable, Joe Ciaglia's Ciaglia Stable, Rob Dyrdek, and Nick Cosato.
Hidden Point Farm bred Weemissfrankie, a $175,000 2-year-old purchase at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s April sale.
“This means a lot to me, but more for the (ownership) group," Eurton said. "I’ve never won a group I, or a group race of any kind for that matter.”
Weemissfrankie once again demonstrated a superb closing kick. The chestnut filly broke her maiden July 20 at Del Mar, rallying from seventh at mid-stretch to win by a half-length with Bejarano aboard.
“It couldn’t have turned out any better," Eurton said. "He (Bejarano) rode her to perfection. I was hoping he wouldn’t get into a speed duel and she dropped in their nicely in fourth, made a big run on the outside and kept on going.
“She’s got a lot of class and the mental part about her is so strong. Nothing bothers her, at least not yet. We’ll see how it goes. (There are) a lot of things to come and hopefully we can go to where we want to go with her."
Weemissfrankie was sent off as the 2-1 favorite over Dreamcaster, trained by Bob Baffert, who was seeking his seventh win in the race.
Woebegon, on the outside, broke best onto the chute, but 48-1 shot Evelyn's Dancer, leaving from the rail, got the lead to set the pace in the 10-horse field. She was tracked on her outside by Coup de Coeur and Dreamcaster. Evelyn's Dancer stepped the first quarter-mile in :22.32 and the half in :45.40 and led the field into the stretch before being overtaken by Dreamcaster.
Weemissfrankie, content to lay just off the early leaders, was seventh after a half-mile. But she closed with a rush to soon overtake the new leader on the far outside. She won under steady handling from Bejarano, who captured the Debutante for the first time.
“I knew I was on the best horse and I rode that way," he said after recording his meet-leading seventh stakes victory. "She felt good all the way around. At the three-eighths (pole) I could feel I had a lot of horse under me and I went wide with her. I wasn’t going to go down inside there and let them try to run over me."
Self Preservation, who followed Weemissfrankie through the stretch in the middle of the track, finished well. Raced in Ireland for the first two races of her career, she made her first American start for trainer Ben Cecil to get second by a three-quarters of a length with Patrick Valenzuela aboard.
“Oh, she’s a runner," Valenzuela said. "She handled the track just fine and we got rolling. I threw her a cross and got after her and she was really rolling. She can run. She’s going to be fun on down the line.”
Emerald Gold, ridden by Garrett Gomez, rallied for third with Wild Truffles fourth.
Weemissfrankie earned $150,000 for the victory and has now earned $187,800 in her two starts. Under 118 pounds, she paid $6.80, $4.40, and $3. She keyed and exacta worth $124.20.
J. Paul Reddam's Self Preservation, a daughter of Lion Heart, returned $18.20 and $10.20 in a game effort. Glen Hill Farm's Emerald Gold paid $4 to show in her stakes debut for trainer Tom Proctor.