Updated on 05/18/2012 6:16PM

Pimlico: Alternation holds off Nehro to win Pimlico Special

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Barbara D. Livingston
Alternation, with jockey Luis Quinonez up, wins the Grade 3 Pimlico Special on Friday.

BALTIMORE – Last month, trainer Donnie Von Hemel came out on the short end of a photo when Caleb’s Posse lost a nose decision to Jackson Bend in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct.

Friday, the roles were reversed for Von Hemel as Alternation got his nose down on the wire just in front of Nehro to win the Grade 3, $300,000 Pimlico Special before an announced crowd of 32,473.

“We got beat a dirty photo in New York last month, so it all evens up,” Von Hemel said.

It was a length back to Endorsement, who set a strong early pace. He was followed in the order of finish by Mission Impazible, Hymn Book, Yawanna Twist, Toby’s Corner, Cherokee Artist, and Eighttofasttocatch. The Pimlico Special was being run for the first time since 2008.

It was the fourth win in as many races this year for Alternation, a 4-year-old son of Distorted Humor owned and bred by Josephine Abercrombie’s Pin Oak Stud. Earlier in the year, Alternation won the Essex, the Grade 3 Razorback, and Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, all at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

This was his eighth win from 13 career starts and the $180,000 first-place purse pushed his earnings to $900,004. Abercrombie, 86, flew in from Lexington, Ky., for the race.

Under Luis Quinonez, Alternation, racing three wide, chased Endorsement, who ran a quarter in 23.60 seconds, a half-mile in 48.88, and three-quarters 1:10.73.

Alternation was actually fourth going into the far turn as Toby’s Corner made a move into contention along the rail. When Mission Impazible came outside of Alternation around the turn, Quinonez pushed the button to go after Endorsement.

“Even though I was using him, I knew I had some horse underneath me,” Quinonez said. “Sometimes he doesn’t give you everything, but there was a little bit left, and he did he run a good race. Donnie did a super job with him.”

Alternation collared Endorsement inside the sixteenth pole and persevered to the wire, just holding off an unlucky Nehro who was rallying wide under Corey Nakatani.

Alternation, who was carrying six more pounds than Nehro, covered the 1 3/16 miles in 1:57.60 and returned $10.20.

“I think he’s truly a versatile horse; if there’s a slower pace, he’s going to be up there, and like today, he’s going to be a little further back,” Von Hemel said. “I think we’ll see him grow into that a little bit more each time he runs still.”

Von Hemel said that Alternation would likely make his next start in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on June 16.

There’s a good chance he will face Nehro in that race. Nehro, the runner-up in last year’s Kentucky Derby, had to go wide in the stretch Friday and his late run just fell short.

“The big horse is back,” Nakatani said. “He did get caught wide. He was very unlucky to miss the bob there. He ran a great race, the outside seemed to me to be a little better for him, and that’s where we put him and he came rolling like he’s supposed to.”

* All-sources handle on Friday’s card was $13,786,798.