11/28/2015 7:13PM

Family Meeting wins stakes debut in Jimmy Durante

Benoit Photo
Family Meeting wins the Jimmy Durante Stakes by a half-length Saturday at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Family Meeting earned her first stakes win and an incalculable amount of race experience with a surprise win Saturday in the $101,750 Jimmy Durante Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Del Mar.

Making her stakes debut, Family Meeting ($76.60) closed from ninth in a field of 12 to win the one-mile turf race by a half-length over the 6-1 Mokat. Family Meeting, who was timed in 1:37.14, was the fourth-longest shot in the field.

The Grade 3 Durante was the third start for Family Meeting, who races for owner-breeder Glen Hill Farm and trainer Tom Proctor. The filly’s win following a wide rally left jockey Drayden Van Dyke impressed, considering he thought she ran greenly at times.

“She doesn’t know what she’s doing yet,” said Van Dyke. “She idled a bit on me, and when I hit her left-handed, she kicked it in.”

Family Meeting broke from post 11 and was ninth for the first half-mile. Van Dyke, the champion apprentice jockey of 2014, guided Family Meeting into contention with a three-wide move and was fifth with a furlong to go, racing 1 1/4 lengths behind the pacesetter Corps de Ballet.

Family Meeting was fully extended to beat Mokat, who also was making her stakes debut after beating maidens on turf in her second start here Oct. 31.

“I thought we had it,” said Richard Baltas, who trains Mokat.

Craig Bernick of Glen Hill Farm praised Van Dyke’s ride from a wide draw.

“She needed to go or whoa,” he said in the winner’s circle. “They have to save ground on one turn.”

Mokat finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of the 12-1 Sutton’s Smile, who was followed by Mirage, Sheeza Milky Way, Corps de Ballet, Jeremy’s Legacy, Optimism And Hope, Wake the Dawn, Riri, One Last Shot, and Do the Dance.

Riri, who won her first start against maidens and second in an optional claimer, was the 2-1 favorite. She was third with a quarter-mile remaining but faded from contention in the final quarter-mile.

Family Meeting, by Sky Mesa, was fourth in her debut in a six-furlong maiden race on dirt Sept. 30 at Delaware Park and won her turf debut against maidens Nov. 7 at Laurel.

Bernick said Family Meeting will be pointed for turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies in 2016.