By Dick Downey
The Downey Profile
Alternation closed the gap from the outside to edge Adios Charlie by a short head in the Grade II Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park.
With urging from Ramon Dominguez that began in the turn, Alternation went four wide into the stretch and finished the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:49.53.
Alternation is Triple Crown-nominated and will be considered for the Belmont Stakes in four weeks.
Longshot Bold Deed took the early lead in the Peter Pan and carried the field through the first quarter-mile in ;23.78, with Adios Charlie, Prime Cut and Joe Vann chasing him. Those four were the leaders through a half-mile in :47.14 and six furlongs in 1:11.90.
In the turn, Uncle Brent began to mount a challenge with Alternation to his outside. Bold Deed and Uncle Brent threw in the towel in upper stretch, while Alternation kept going after the leaders. At the furlong marker, Adios Charlie, favored at 3-1 odds, briefly shook loose from the field, but he coudn't hold off Alternation. Meanwhile, Prime Cut and Joe Vann kept running to take third and fourth, beaten 4 1/2 and seven lengths, respectively.
The remaining order of finish was Bold Deed, Monzon, Beer Meister, Newsdad, Uncle Brent and Tap Attack.
Alternation, trained by Donnie K. Von Hemel, was sent off the co-second choice with Uncle Brent at 7-2--the winner was a 6-1 morning line--and paid $9.40 to win, $4.40 to place and $3.20 to show. Of the $200,000 purse, Alternation earned $120,000.
Alternation entered the Peter Pan off a fifth-place finish in the Grade I Arkansas Derby won by Archarcharch. In that race, Alternation got away slowly and was last of 13 after the first six furlongs. He got away from the gate much better in the one-turn Peter Pan and was mid-pack in the 11-horse field during the early running.
Alternation is a son of Distorted Humor out of Alternate, by Seattle Slew. He was bred in Kentucky by Pin Oak Stud and is raced by Pin Oak Stable.
Ramon Dominguez, winning rider: “The front wasn’t really coming back at all, and my horse just kept grinding and tried pretty hard. I was very impressed. He’s a beautiful, big animal and they told me before the race, ‘you’ll be surprised - when you ask him, you’ll get horse right away. It’s not like he takes a couple strides.’ Sure enough, around the half-mile I had to kind of smooch him to get through on the rail, and then I had to kind of slam on the brakes because I had nowhere to go once I got through. It was good to see that as big as he is, he’s also got tactical speed and more than one gear.”
Donnie Von Hemel, winning trainer: “Any time we have a chance to come back here and run at Belmont, it’s going to be difficult race. He has ridden for Pin Oak before, and he’s the top man up here. When we decided to come, we decided to give Ramon a call. Steve Rushing, his agent, said ‘yes,’ so that was like, ‘We must have a pretty good shot!’ We’ll probably go back to Arlington, but we’ll certainly keep all of our options open.”
Stanley Hough, trainer of Adios Charlie: “We were really happy with his race. They went pretty fast. We’ll probably look ahead at something like the Jim Dandy or the Haskell, with a race before that.”
Rajiv Maragh, jockey aboard Adios Charlie: “That was a tough beat. He’s a resilient horse. The tougher the competition gets, the more he will give you.”