02/23/2011 3:26PM

Alternation breaks out at Oaklawn


 HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The Southwest Stakes was not the only race at Oaklawn Park on Monday to produce starters for next month’s Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel. Alternation emerged as a candidate for the race following an allowance win on the undercard. He closed from next to last going 1 1/16 miles, and earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 83.

“He overcame a bad break, showed some class down the lane,” said Donnie Von Hemel, who trains Alternation for Pin Oak Stable. “He looks like a horse with a future.”

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Alternation remained unbeaten at two turns with the win Monday. It was his third straight score in four career starts, with his streak beginning at Remington Park in December, when he won a maiden special weight in his two-turn debut. Alternation then shipped to Oaklawn, and on Jan. 15 edged Elite Alex by a head in a $60,000 optional claiming allowance at a mile. Alternation was then set for a start in the Southwest, but Monday’s allowance came up as an extra and the opportunity to give him more experience before stepping into the stakes ranks was appealing, said Von Hemel.

“He’ll be more ready for a race like the Rebel,” he said of having the allowance.

Alternation won by 3 1/4 lengths over Dreaminofthewin and Bluegrass Bull, who finished second and third in last month’s $100,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn. The allowance field Monday also included several 4-year-olds. Alternation is by Distorted Humor. His dam, a multiple stakes-winning daughter of Seattle Slew, is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Peaks and Valleys.

Von Hemel won the Smarty Jones with Caleb’s Posse, who was sixth in the Southwest. He was one of several horses who did not have a clean run in the one-mile race that ended at the sixteenth pole Monday.

“He was bottled up pretty much from when the running started to when the issue had been decided,” Von Hemel said Wednesday.

Caleb’s Posse, as well as Alternation, returned from their races in “excellent shape,” said Von Hemel. The next probable spot for Caleb’s Posse, he said, is also the Rebel. The mile and a sixteenth race will be run on March 19.

Dreaminofthewin is also a candidate for the Rebel, according to his trainer, C.R. Trout.

Telling to return at Keeneland

Telling, the Oaklawn-based horse who has won the last two runnings of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga, emerged from last weekend’s Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap with a minor physical setback, according to his trainer, Steve Hobby. He finished a troubled ninth, and was never involved in the race, in which he was beaten a total of nine lengths.

“He got slammed so hard leaving the gate that he was just kind of cross-leading,” Hobby said Wednesday. “He was messed up, and floundered around there. The jock said he just stumbled all the way around the track. So, that was just a throwout race.”

Hobby said Telling would likely return to action in the Grade 2, $150,000 Elkhorn at Keeneland on April 29.

“I am going to miss some training, so right now my target is probably Keeneland in April,” he said.

Hobby said Telling would miss about two weeks of training. The long-term goal for the horse is a third appearance in the Sword Dancer in August. Telling is owned by Arkansas residents Alex and JoAnn Lieblong.

Picko’s Pride to Rebel

Picko’s Pride, who closed from last for fourth in the Southwest, will advance to the Rebel, said his trainer, Mac Robertson. Picko’s Pride finished 3 3/4 lengths behind winner Archarcharch, at 79-1.

“He was compromised with the outside post, he had the 11-hole,” Robertson said of Picko’s Pride. “I think with a better post that he’d have been right there. He reeled them in and ran right up to them and kind of had to wait.”

Robertson won the Rebel in 2009 with 56-1 shot Win Willy, who is being pointed for the Grade 3, $100,000 Razorback Handicap on March 12.