08/14/2002 11:00PM

Alternate eyes first graded win

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - With many of her 3-year-old filly peers in the midst of tough campaigns, Alternate is fresh and dangerous as she tries for her first graded stakes win in the Grade 2, $250,000 Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks at Monmouth Saturday.

The Monmouth Oaks, run at nine furlongs, drew a field of five and lacks a graded stakes winner. Alternate's solid qualifications in only six career starts, all this year, will make her a strong favorite on Saturday.

Alternate, a regally bred daughter of Seattle Slew owned by Pin Oak Stable, is trained by Graham Motion. Her races have been spaced about a month apart, and she enters the Monmouth Oaks off a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks.

Motion said she was brought along slowly as a 2-year-old. Alternate has three wins since beginning her career in February at Gulfstream Park.

Her first victory was as an 11 1/4-length maiden romp March 17, the start of a three-race winning streak that was capped off by a win in the $75,000 Go for Wand Stakes at Delaware Park May 4. She has run second in both races since, the Susan's Girl Breeders' Cup at Delaware June 29 and the Delaware Oaks July 20 behind Allamerican Bertie.

Alternate is versatile, and Eibar Coa, aboard her for the first time, could put her on the lead or stalk the pace.

"She's been competitive in every race and was beaten last time by a very nice filly," Motion said from Delaware Park, from where Alternate will ship Saturday morning. "I think she's pretty adaptable. In the Delaware Oaks she had to go out there and push along Allamerican Bertie. She won at Keeneland on the lead and won from off the pace at Delaware [in the Go for Wand]. You really can put her anywhere in the race."

Sixtyone Margaux comes off a wire-to-wire win in the $50,000 Serena's Song Stakes here June 22. Trained by Bill Mott, Sixtyone Margaux has raced only five times.

Seba, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, ran third in a field of four in the Grade 1 Mother Goose June 29 at Belmont, beaten nearly 14 lengths. She is winless on the dirt in two main-track starts in this country, but won her last start, July 25, on the turf.

Rounding out the field are Bronze Autumn, trained by Todd Pletcher, and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Magic Storm.

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