2018 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante Preview

The Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante was originally scheduled for December 1, but that day's entire card was cancelled due to the dangers of a thawing track.  With consistent cold weather through this week, the track should be back to a safe and even footing with no more worries about a big thaw, and all the races should be able to go on as scheduled.  The Whitworth looks to be the final stakes race of the Hawthorne fall meet; the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity, originally scheduled for Saturday, did not fill and was not carded.

The Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante was instilled in 1983 as the Illinois' Breeders' Debutante, has carried the name of the name of longtime Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation (ITBOF) board member Pat Whitworth (1936-2011) since 2003.  This year's edition of the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante drew a field of six for a share of a $50,000 purse -- the six entrants for Friday are the same six as from the original draw, though BE AUTHENTIC scratched on race day.

Looking back across the history of the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante, a trio of winners have gone on to win in graded stakes company.  My Option (2012) won both the 2013 Arlington Oaks (G3) and the 2014 Chicago Handicap (G3).  Rolling Sea (2005), a 28/1 upset winner of the Pat Whitworth, won the Allaire DuPont Breeders' Cup Distaff Stakes (G3) and the Chilukki Stakes (G2) in 2007.  Valid Vixen (1987) won the Sixty Sails Handicap (G3) at Hawthorne two years later, in her graded stakes debut.

Morning lines were not available at original publish time.  Edited November 29 to add morning lines. Re-edited on December 5 to reflect the re-draw for December 7.  Updated on December 7 to account for the scratch of BE AUTHENTIC.

Hawthorne Race Course - Friday, December 7

Race 3: Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante, two-year-old Illinois-registered fillies, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 3:10pm CST

In this field of five, after scratches, there are plenty of wild cards.  Only three have broken their maidens; one has run but not won.  Trainer Wayne Catalano takes the "Debutante" bit literally: he sends out a homebred first-time starter.  The only one who has gone two turns yet is RONAN, one of the maidens -- but even she has only gone two turns over grass, not dirt.  So, for a stakes race at this time in the year, this race is going to demand more pedigree handicapping than usual.

BOODA LOU went off at 23/1 in a six-horse field when she debuted on November 15, but 1:12.2 later, she left everyone along the rail flabbergasted and wondering what they had missed.  She sat a few lengths off the pace, took command into the lane, and left the rest sputtering for minor placings nine lengths behind her.  BOODA LOU won't be that kind of a price this time, but she looms the one to beat in the Pat Whitworth off of that effort.  Not only was it impressive in itself, but it also proved she has the right running style for this race.  With IRISH MARVEL and GOT NONE both likely to want the front end (as well as, perhaps, one of the first-timers), there should be pace to chase -- perfect for BOODA LOU, who has proven she can rate.  Though she steps up to a route for the first time, the distance should be fine: sire Country Be Gold did his best work going two turns, and dam Just Be There was a winner going a mile and a sixteenth on the grass.  (BOODA LOU is her first foal to run.)  Finally, she gets a bit better post than last time.  Posts aren't a huge concern in a six-horse field, but given her likely off-pace trip, I like her a little better a few off the rail than on the fence, where she was when the race was drawn last week.

IRISH MARVEL is another among the three winners in this field.  She comes out for trainer Jim DiVito -- who can be a little streaky in recent times, but who has been as hot as ever with his two-year-olds this year.  As mentioned above, the contested front end is a bit question for her -- she'll likely have to battle with GET NONE for a while, at least until the distance proves too long for GET NONE.  She may have to battle one of the first-timers, as well, if either of them show speed.  But, IRISH MARVEL got the best of a prolonged battle up front in her maiden win, proving she has guts.  She also drew outside the other possible speeds; barring a rail bias, that could get her the cleaner trip among the front-end sorts.  There is also some suggestion that IRISH MARVEL can benefit from the stretch out in distance.  The only other horse out of dam Marvelex who has raced was Razamajazil -- whose first try at a route was a credible second behind Tizgorgeous in the 2014 Pat Whitworth.

Trainer Wayne Catalano sends out two first-time starters, BE AUTHENTIC and BRILLIANT ONE.  Both are by Brilliant Speed: a Dynaformer son who has been a useful route sire so far.  The two are a bit difficult to split -- up to and including that the dams of each have already produced a first-out winner for Catalano.  But, barring a major tote board swing toward her stablemate and away from her, BE AUTHENTIC is slightly preferred.  Both have reasonably consistent worktabs, but BE AUTHENTIC has been publishing longer drills, so perhaps has a bit more bottom worked into her. (On the other hand, rail-drawn BRILLIANT ONE, has a few shorter works -- perhaps she ends up being the faster first-timer early.)  Looking at pedigree, the dam of BRILLIANT ONE has yet to produce a route winner, though the dam of BE AUTHENTIC has produced three winners at a mile or more.  That suggests BE AUTHENTIC is better suited for this route.

RONAN has the most experience of anyone in this field, with four starts, but has yet to hit the board.  She will have to reverse that form to make an impact here, but there are a few reasons she can.  RONAN tries two turns on dirt for the first time, something her pedigree suggests she may take to.  She is a full sister to Kalispell -- and though Kalispell has never won at two turns, she has grabbed a pair of second-place finishes this meet going a route over the Hawthorne dirt, and their dam also produced route winner Flathead River (Repent).  On class, RONAN has yet to drop down against state-bred company; even though some of her foes today are winners, she may not be in quite as tough as she was in those tries at Churchill against open maidens.



#3 BOODA LOU (3/1)
#6 RONAN (8/1)

Longshot:  With the scratch of BE AUTHENTIC, RONAN moves to the main field.  The longshot writer, in turn, packs up their things and goes home.

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