08/27/2004 11:00PM

Sweet Catomine captures Debutante


DEL MAR, Calif. - Sweet Catomine, considered the weaker half of a favored entry, overcame a bad start to win Saturday's $250,000 for 2-year-old fillies.

Sweet Catomine finished seven furlongs in 1:24.18, the second-slowest time since the Grade 1 Debutante was shortened from a mile in 1993. The victory marked Sweet Catomine's first win; she finished second in a maiden race in her debut on July 31.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Sweet Catomine ($5.20) hopped in the air at the start and was last for the first quarter-mile, well behind Hello Lucky who set a quick pace of 22.07 and 44.51 seconds.

With three furlongs remaining, Sweet Catomine was seventh, trailing Hello Lucky by more than eight lengths. With a wide rally, Sweet Catomine reached contention, passing several rivals in early stretch. By then, Hello Lucky had yielded the lead to Souvenir Gift, who could not hold off Sweet Catomine, a winner by three-quarters of a length.

"She's a big filly, built like a colt," Espinoza said. "She bobbled a little on me at the start, but I wasn't worried. I could sense how fast they were going up front and I knew that was going to help me, too."

Souvenir Gift finished 1 1-2 lengths in front of Hello Lucky in the field of nine 2-year-old fillies. Proposed, third in the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes on July 23 in her debut, was near the pace early but faded to finish seventh.

Sweet Catomine and Proposed are trained by Julio Canani for Marty and Pam Wygod, who also bred the fillies.