06/25/2012 3:15PM

Arlington Park notes: Alternation won't race until August

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Donnie Von Hemel has Alternation pointed to the Governor’s Cup on Aug. 11 at Remington Park.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Alternation, who lost for the first time in five 2012 starts when he finished fifth June 16 in the Stephen Foster Handicap, won’t race again until August, trainer Donnie Von Hemel said Monday.

Alternation will remain in light training, engaging in exercise like jogging at Arlington’s training track, but won’t race again until Aug. 11, when Von Hemel and owner-breeder Pin Oak Farm hope to start him in the $200,000 Governor’s Cup at Remington Park. Last October, Alternation finished a close second to Redeemed in the Oklahoma Derby at Remington.

“We’ll take a little bit of a breather through the summer, start back there, and then look to something in New York, maybe the Jockey Club Gold Cup, to see if we’re going to the Breeders’ Cup with him,” Von Hemel said.

Alternation has earned this little rest. His 2012 debut came Feb. 4, and he won the Essex, the Razorback, the Oaklawn Handicap, and the Pimlico Special before finishing fifth, beaten a little more than four lengths in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster.

While Alternation won’t be getting any farm rest, his stable-mate Caleb’s Posse has been at a Kentucky farm since shortly after finishing second by a nose in the May 28 Metropolitan Handicap. Von Hemel said Caleb’s Posse wasn’t likely to race again until late summer, perhaps in September.

Upperline makes best of it

At age 5, and with 21 starts behind her, Upperline at this point knows what she likes and dislikes, and racing between horses definitely falls into the “dislike” category. That’s where Upperline wound up during the Trillium Stakes on Sunday at Woodbine, a race she still nearly won despite sucking back to last while trying to escape the claustrophobic spot midway through the Trillium.

“When she gets in that position she’ll just refuse,” said trainer Mike Stidham. “I don’t have an explanation for it. It’s just her. Avoid tight spots, is about all you can do.”

Stidham said he thought Upperline might finish last when she turned into the Woodbine stretch at the back of the field, but Upperline surged late and was beaten a nose by in a race she had won last year.

“I never, ever want to lose a race,” Stidham said, “but if we were going to lose one, that was it, because we were just using it as a prep for her next two.”

The two races to which Stidham refers both are Arlington turf stakes, the Modesty next month and, if Upperline runs well there, the Grade 1 Beverly D. on Aug. 18.

The other horse Stidham sent to Canada last week, Hammers Terror, fared much better, turning in what Stidham called the best race of his life while beating talented Exaper by 3 3/4 lengths in the Charlie Barley, a one-mile grass stakes. Stidham said that Hammers Terror could either return to Woodbine for an upcoming stakes race or make his next start at Arlington in the American Derby.

Bet Seattle looks live

Wednesday’s featured sixth is just a first-level turf-sprint allowance, but the race drew a large, competitive, and seemingly bettable field.

The Stidham-trained Larry Zip was made the tepid 7-2 morning-line favorite, but he’s just one of a host of horses with a shot. A quick tempo in the five-furlong race seems likely, and – with racing luck – that might be all Bet Seattle needs to rally for a win. Bet Seattle has finished second and third in a pair of similar spots this meet, but neither race had much early pace on, and a quick early and middle tempo might really help Bet Seattle, a Hugh Robertson-trained 3-year-old.