10/02/2002 11:00PM

Are blinkers cure for seconditis?


Bettors who made Alternate the heavy favorite in her last five races have been trashing more tickets than they have been cashing lately.

Although Alternate, a 3-year-old filly trained by Graham Motion, has been first or second in six starts since winning her maiden last March, she hasn't won since early May. The addition of blinkers could be the cure for Alternate's seconditis in Saturday's $250,000 Cotillion Handicap at Philadelphia Park.

The Grade 2 Cotillion, at 1 1/16 miles, is one of eight stakes on a 10-race program that begins at a special post time of 12:05 p.m. Eastern. The undercard includes the $150,000 Gallant Bob Handicap for 3-year-old sprinters and six $50,000 stakes for Pennsylvania-breds.

Alternate, runner-up in graded stakes at Delaware and Monmouth in her most recent starts, comes into the Cotillion off a six-week layoff. Her chief challenger looks to be Jilbab, who beat a mediocre field in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont in July.

Another New York-based filly, Smok'n Frolic, was a two-time graded stakes winner as a 2-year-old last season, but remains winless after four races this year. Both Jilbab and Smok'n Frolic have been rested since finishing far back in the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga in mid-August.

Sixtyone Margaux finished within 1 1/2 lengths of Alternate in the Monmouth Oaks after setting a contested pace. She returns to the main track for trainer Bill Mott after an unsuccessful experiment on turf, but will have to be used hard early from post 11.

Locally based Pupil, never worse than second in four lifetime starts, has the potential for an upset if she can move forward off her last start, in which she finished second, earning a 90 Beyer Speed Figure, in the Pennsylvania Oaks.