Stickney, IL—Sometimes a good pedigree can overcome experience and a tough post position. Such was the case in the 26th running of the $107,650 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante, when Ava Mae, a full sister to 2006 Hawthorne Derby winner Best of Buddies, rallied powerfully through the stretch to win the Illinois-bred race for two-year-old fillies.

Ridden by Jose Ferrer and trained by Michelle Boyce, Ava Mae entered the ‘Debutante’ a maiden, having finished 2nd and 4th in her only two lifetime starts, but the connections were confident they had a talented filly and thought this could be a spot to take a chance.

“We ran her against open winners last time out to see if she would handle the dirt. She handled it well and had a few excuses, so we set her down for this race,” said Boyce.

Ferrer probably was most confident of all. “We knew she could run. There was no doubt about it. She worked great in the morning. She’s got a lot of talent but she’s just learning how to run.”

Ava Mae broke last behind a contested pace which saw the favorite Lose None get to the quarter in 24.67 and the half in 48.66. Just past the half-mile, Lose None felt pressure from Showtime Deb winner Happy Henrietta on her inside and Winpins on her outside, as Ava Mae commenced her winning move.

Ava Mae reached contention on the far turn, caught Lose None in midstretch and drew clear, the official margin of victory two lengths. Winpins outgamed Happy Henrietta for the runner-up position. Lose None tired late to finish sixth. The final time for the one mile and one- sixteenths was 1:45.40.

Ava Mae, owned and bred by Barr Three LLC, returned $14.80 to win and keyed a $112.20 exacta with 9-1 shot Winpins.