Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Ciaglia Racing LLC
Dance With Fate, Blue Grass Stakes, Keeneland, April 12th 2014
Trained by Peter Eurton, Sire: Two Step Salsa. Dam: Flirting With Fate by Saint Ballado
Sharon Alesia, who was first married to musician and recording industry executive Herb Alpert, was introduced to horse racing by her late second husband, Frank Alesia, an actor and television director from Chicago whose dad, raced Thoroughbreds with trainer Steve Ippolito. Ippolito’s stepson, Peter Eurton, would become the Alesias’ trainer after Sharon bought a Thoroughbred for Frank to celebrate their first wedding anniversary in June, 1984. That horse never raced, but Sharon and Frank have been in racing ever since.
Frank, who moved to Los Angeles in 1964, appeared in the beach party films “Pajama Party,” “Bikini Beach” and “Beach Blanket Bingo” and in television shows including “The Flying Nun,” “The Odd Couple,” “Gomer Pyle,” “That Girl,” “Room 222” and “Laverne & Shirley.” Turning to directing, he received a daytime Emmy nomination for “Captain Kangaroo.”
After Frank passed away in 2011, Sharon and her partners - Ciaglia Racing (Joe Ciaglia), Bran Jam Stable (Mike Mellen), Rob Dyrdek and Nick Cosato - named the two-year-old filly they purchased for $175,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale Weemissfrankie to honor Sharon’s husband. Weemissfrankie then won the Grade I Del Mar Debutante and the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes before finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly. After she suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture while finishing fourth in the Grade I Hollywood Starlet Stakes, she was sold and is now a broodmare in Japan.
Joe Ciaglia Jr., now 50, worked at Ralph’s Grocery in Arcadia, Calif., as a teen-ager and he and a buddy there, Brad Free, went to Santa Anita to catch races after their shifts were done. Free became a columnist for the Daily Racing Form, and Ciaglia became one of the top designers of action sports facilities in the world, several of which have been featured in the X Games, which includes skateboarding, motorcross and snowboarding, and is televised annually by ESPN. Ciaglia has three companies: California Skateparks, California Landscape & Design and California Rampworks, which manages events. California Skateparks has built nearly 200 projects in 40 states, including ones for world champion skateboarder Tony Hawk and two-time snowboarder and skateboarder Olympic gold medalist Shawn White.
Ciaglia’s wife, Stephanie, who was good friends with trainer Peter Eurton’s wife, Julie, introduced Ciaglia to Frank Alasia, and Ciaglia became an owner in 1999 when he claimed Ask Crafty for $25,000. The horse was claimed in his first start for his new owner. Then Ciaglia went into partnership with Frank and Sharon Alasia and Mike Mellen’s Bran Jam Stable and claimed Cee Dreams, who went on to take the $150,000 California Cup Matron Handicap and retired with 11 victories from 40 starts and earnings of $433,318.
Mike Mellen, the patriarch of Bran Jam Stables, has had an incredible impact in Thoroughbred racing through his daughter Dawn, who founded and is the president of After the Finish Line, a 501 (C3) charity which has been helping fund Thoroughbred rescue operations around the country for 6 ½ years. She said, “There’s a purpose for every horse out there. The greatest victory for a Thoroughbred is not winning a race, but winning the race to live long past their days on the racetrack.”