2019 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante Preview

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.

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.

One Hawthorne namesake is also a winner of this race: fittingly, it's the namesake of the prep race.  Showtime Deb won the 1998 Illinois Breeders Debutante, which was run at Fairmount that year.  She would go on to win one more stakes race at three, the Mary Todd Stakes at Belmoral Park. Though, her best year came at age two: she won five starts out of six as a juvenile, with her only loss coming when she ran second in a maiden special weight on debut.  In addition to the Debutante, she won three stakes at Hawthorne, all during the month of September: the Marica Stakes, the Windy City Stakes, and the Durazna Stakes.

And, lovers of Illinois pedigree may note that two of this year's contenders are closely related to previous winners of the race.  COWGIRL KIMMIE's full sister Cowgirl Callie won the Pat Whitworth in 2017.  SUMMER DAY's third dam is Julie Mis, who produced 2002 winner Julie's Prize (El Prado).  SUMMER DAY's own second dam, G3 winner Summer Mis, ran second in the 2001 edition of this race, behind White O Morn.

Hawthorne Race Course - Friday, December 6

Race 3: Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante, two-year-old Illinois-registered fillies, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 1:55pm CST

This year's Whitworth drew a field of six to compete for a $50,000 purse.  Among them, two are winners and four are still maidens.  Neither of the winners have gotten their pictures taken more than once -- Showtime Deb winner Itsarollofthedice has already skipped town and is entered in a $50K/N1X turf mile (for the condition, not the tag) at Fair Grounds on Thursday, December 4.

The only two-turn winner, and squarely the horse to beat, is SUMMER DAY.  She never got involved in the Arlington-Washington Lassie, but her pair of two-turn starts were good: a late-running third in an open maiden special weight turf mile on Million Day (so, tougher than the usual Chicago maiden), and a maiden win at a mile on the Hawthorne lawn on October 24.  The question for SUMMER DAY is surface, since she hasn't run on dirt before.  But, her sire Sky Mesa is one of the most surface-versatile stallions out there, and her female family is replete with dirt form and class.  She hasn't shown a lot of early speed, so the question -- particularly on the switch to dirt -- is whether someone is going to walk the dog in front of her, and if so, if she's going to be good enough to overcome it.  If her turf form transfers to dirt, she may just prove too good.

If someone is able to get that sweet front-end trip, that someone is most likely to be COWGIRL KIMMIE.  It's not a shoo-in; both SHELBI RENEE and COLUMBIA CLIPPER have shown flashes of pace, and SHELBI RENEE is going first-time route.  COWGIRL KIMMIE also has to come away better than she did in the Showtime Deb, when she broke outward and ceded the early initiative to Freedom Lass.  But, if she does?  It's a cold day on the Hawthorne dirt, and the race is early in the afternoon.  Inside speed can be good, and if it is, COWGIRL KIMMIE is the one who just might trip out.

WAR COLORS has been coming close, but she is finally making a change that this space has been waiting with bated breath for her to make: she is stepping up to two turns for the first time.  She hasn't been bad at a sprint; in five starts, the only time she missed the superfecta was in the Arlington-Washington Lassie, when she was facing open stakes horses.  But, being a Revolutionary half to Disorderly Conduct, a horse who needed first-time route to shake clear of professional maiden status?  WAR COLORS may just need the distance, too.  If one of the maidens steps up to topple the winners?  WAR COLORS has shown talent, and has room to improve.

Selections:

#2 SUMMER DAY (9/5)
#1 COWGIRL KIMMIE (7/2)
#5 WAR COLORS (3/1)

Longshot:  If you're playing the exotics, #4 COLUMBIA CLIPPER (8/1) has the most room for improvement.  She'll have to start better; last time, she unseated her rider at the start.  That was her first dirt start, so we don't know how she handles it.  (There is some dirt pedigree on top with Haynesfield, though the dam side is very turf oriented.)  But, COLUMBIA CLIPPER is the only horse other than SUMMER DAY to have tried a two-turn trip, and she finished a good second in a turf mile over the summer.  COLUMBIA CLIPPER also get a rider change to Constantino Roman, who has been riding hot in recent weeks, including a four-win day last Friday.  Will this be enough to beat all three of the key contenders?  Perhaps not.  Will it be enough to sweeten the payout of the trifecta?  That could happen.

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