12/06/2008 12:00AM

Hawthorne: Ava Mae by two

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The Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante turned, essentially, into a $107,650 maiden race. Ava Mae had failed to win the first two starts of her career, but she won the Debutante, rallying wide and from well behind a contested early pace to score by two lengths over Winpins at Hawthorne.

Ava Mae, a homebred owned by Barr Three, a family partnership, had run quite well in her debut, rallying from last to second in an open maiden turf race. On Nov. 20, trainer Michelle Boyce raced Ava Mae in an open entry-level allowance to see if the filly would show as much on dirt. Ava Mae ran evenly in the stretch that day, finishing a well-beaten fourth, but she improved on a cold, blustery day at Hawthorne.

Racing under lights, the Whitworth fillies mainly engaged in a mass early speed war, with six of the nine horses close to early fractions of 24.67 seconds for the first quarter-mile, and 48.66 for the half. The favored Lose None led into the far turn, but jockey Tim Thornton made an early rail move with second choice Happy Henrietta, sending his mount to engage the leader.

Happy Henrietta and Lose None came into the stretch together, but neither was there at the finish. Lose None caved first, and Ava Mae, making her initial move partway around the far turn under Jose Ferrer, steadily closed in while racing wide. She made the front in the final half-furlong, and held firm despite drifting out. Winpins nipped Happy Henrietta for second, with Ava Mae going 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.40 and paying $14.80 to win.