WEEMISSFRANKIE (Sunriver) created a big enough impression in her career debut to garner 2-1 favoritism in Saturday's $250,000 Del Mar Debutante S. (G1), and the Peter Eurton pupil lived up to her tall reputation with a 1 1/4-length victory. Swinging wide off the far turn for Rafael Bejarano, Weemissfrankie blew by her rivals to assume leadership of the West Coast's two-year-old fillies.
Her success is a poignant one for her connections, Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stables, Ciaglia Racing, Rob Dyrdek and Nick Cosato. She was named after Sharon's late husband Frank Alesia, the entertainment personality and longtime horse owner. The filly named in tribute has now become the first Grade 1 winner for her owners and her trainer.
"This means a lot to me, but more for the (ownership) group," Eurton said. "I've never won a Group 1 (Grade 1), or a group (graded) race of any kind, for that matter."
In the opening strides, Woebegon (Saint Anddan) and Dreamcaster (GB) (Bernardini) flashed speed from the far outside posts, but they were soon overtaken by the inside-drawn fillies Evelyn's Dancer (Songandaprayer) and Coup de Coeur (Exchange Rate). Evelyn's Dancer hugged the rail while tearing through splits of :22 1/5 and :45 2/5, with Coup de Cour lapped onto her.
Dreamcaster appeared to be traveling comfortably in a stalking third. As soon as she ranged up to menace turning for home, though, Dreamcaster found little and trudged on at one pace before dropping back.
In contrast, Weemissfrankie was building up good-looking momentum from off the pace rounding the far turn. Once straightening up, she shot past the gaggle of weakening leaders and kicked away to finish seven furlongs in 1:23 1/5 on the Polytrack. The bettors' choice rewarded her followers with $6.80, $4.40 and $3.
"I knew I was on the best horse and I rode that way," Bejarano said. "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. She was strong today, much more up in the race. That last start on opening day, she was a first-time starter and we were way back. But today we were up in the race all the way."
"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."
Self Preservation (Lion Heart) was pinched back at the start in her American and synthetic debut, and lagged in last early, but closed fast late for an eye-catching second. While reducing the winner's margin, she finished second by three-quarters of a length.
"Oh, she's a runner," jockey Pat Valenzuela said of Self Preservation. "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 (War Front) got up for third, a neck ahead of Wild Truffles (Offlee Wild). Next came Killer Graces (Congaree), Silent Saga (Silent Name [Jpn]), Dreamcaster, Woebegon, Evelyn's Dancer and Coup de Cour.
Weemissfrankie, a perfect two-for-two, has bankrolled $187,800. Making her first start on the July 20 opening day card, the chestnut uncorked a ferocious late charge to score by a half-length.
"She's got a lot of class," Eurton observed, "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."
Bred by Hidden Point Farm in New York, Weemissfrankie was first sold for $40,000 as an OBS August yearling. She was purchased by her current ownership team for $175,000 as an OBS two-year-old in training in April, just a couple of months following Frank's death.
Weemissfrankie has an unnamed yearling full sister and a 2011 half-sister by It's No Joke. They were all produced by the unraced Meadowlake mare Starinthemeadow, a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Program Pick (Peterhof), who is herself the dam of two juvenile stakes scorers -- 2000 Spinaway S. (G1) and Sorority S. (G3) queen Stormy Pick (Storm Creek) and Expected Program (Valid Expectations), winner of the 2001 Willard L. Proctor Memorial S. and Haggin S.
Tracing the female line much further back, one finds Ladysman (Pompey), the champion two-year-old of 1932 following victories in the Hopeful S., Arlington Futurity, Grand Union Hotel S. and United States Hotel S. Runner-up in the following year's Preakness, he later padded his resume with a win in the 1934 Suburban H.