05/15/2012 12:07PM

Pimlico: Alternation heads deep cast for Pimlico Special

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Barbara D. Livingston
Alternation, a leading player in Friday's Pimlico Special, trains over a wet track on Tuesday.

BALTIMORE – It’s far too early in 2012 to start talking about Horse of the Year, but there it was in a media release about the revived Pimlico Special: 15 of the previous 41 winners eventually were voted Horse of the Year.

The $300,000 Pimlico Special will be run Friday for the first time since being discontinued after the 2008 running, and although there is no promise of a Horse of the Year in the field, an exceptionally deep lineup of 10 older horses clearly outdoes the Grade 3 rating the 1 3/16-mile race carries in its return. Among those entered are Alternation, winner of the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap last out; Hymn Book, winner of the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream in February; Nehro, the 2011 Kentucky Derby runner-up; and Mission Impazible, an earner of more than $1.2 million.

The Pimlico Special essentially displaced the W.D. Schaefer on the Pimlico stakes schedule so as to retain a grade, which disappears when a race is not run for two straight years. A resurgent purse structure on the Maryland circuit because of new casino revenues allowed Pimlico to renew the Special while also bolstering purses for some other Preakness weekend stakes and for everyday racing.

Alternation arrived at Pimlico a week early and has been one of the few stars to train here daily, pending the influx of arrivals here Wednesday or later from Kentucky, New York, and elsewhere.

“There was plenty of time to get him a nice trip and do a little schooling here,” said trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel. “This looked like a good next step for him. We liked the distance and the type of race it is. It’s a race with a lot of tradition and history and it will set him up nicely for the Stephen Foster,” a Grade 1 race on June 16 at Churchill Downs.

The Pimlico Special will lead off a two-day double wager ending with the Preakness. In the absence of the Pimlico Special in recent years, the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes had led off that double.

The 13-race Friday card starts at noon Eastern. Pimlico also is offering a $200,000 guaranteed pool on the late pick four Friday (races 9-12) ending with the Pimlico Special.

Also, when live racing resumes here Thursday following a three-day break, horseplayers can take a shot at a carryover of $100,124 in the 50-cent pick five, which starts with race 5.

Pimlico Special (G3), Post Time: 5:51 ET Friday

Purse: $300,000; 1 3/16 miles

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Toby's Corner

H. Motion

E. Castro

6-1

1

Endorsement

E. Harty

M. Garcia

8-1

1

Hymn Book

C. McGaughey, III

J. Velazquez

4-1

1

Cherokee Artist

J. Robb

V. Santiago

15-1

1

Nehro

S. Asmussen

C. Nakatani

8-1

1

Mission Impazible

T. Pletcher

J. Castellano

7-2

1

Yawanna Twist

J. Parisella

M. Luzzi

12-1

1

Alternation

D. Von Hemel

L. Quinonez

4-1

1

Eighttofasttocatch

T. Keefe

S. Russell

15-1