08/12/2012 8:17AM

Remington: Alternation noses Prayer for Relief in Governor's Cup

Dustin Orona Photography
Luis Quinonez celebrates after guidng Alternation to victory in the $200,000 Governor's Cup.

Alternation became a millionaire Saturday night at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, when he edged Prayer for Relief by a nose in a spirited battle to the wire in the $200,000 Governor’s Cup. The race served as Alternation’s stepping-stone to a fall campaign that could take him to the Breeders’ Cup. 

Alternation has now won five stakes this year alone, and the $120,000 he earned Saturday pushed his career earnings to $1,032,727. His other stakes wins from six starts this year have come in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, Grade 3 Razorback and $100,000 Essex, all at Oaklawn, and the Grade 3 Pimlico Special at Pimlico.

“We hope that we can do something this fall that will lead us to the Breeders’ Cup,” said trainer Donnie Von Hemel. “That’s still a few months away.”

In the Governor’s Cup, Alternation was prominent from the start of the 1 1/8-mile stakes, racing alongside leader Prayer for Relief through fractions of 24.13 seconds for the opening quarter, 48.17 for the half-mile and 1:12.87 for six furlongs. Alternation began his wind-up from there, but Prayer for Relief remained resolute along the rail and the two horses went at all the way to the wire, with Alternation edging his rival to cover the distance on a fast track in 1:49.27.

“My horse tries hard,” said Luis Quinonez, regular rider on Alternation for Pin Oak Stable. “He’s a fighter. He showed that today again. I knew he wasn’t going to let me down.”

Von Hemel credited both horses for their efforts and noted that Alternation carried six more pounds than Prayer for Relief. Alternation was in at 124 pounds per the allowance conditions of the race, and Prayer for Relief, 118. Get in Da House finished third, 6 1/4 lengths behind the top two Saturday. 

Alternation paid $3.20 as the 3-5 favorite. There was no show wagering in the five-horse field.

On the undercard, Alsvid rallied into a hot pace set by Apprehender and Joe Hollywood to win the $100,000 David M. Vance. Alsvid settled in fourth behind the leaders, was bottled up around the final turn, but was able to angle out into the stretch and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Okie Ride. It was another half-length back in third to Apprehender.

“When I set him down at the top of the stretch, he just went for it,” said Chris Landeros, who rode Alsvid for Black Hawk Stable and trainer Chris Hartman.

Alsvid, who paid $8 after covering six furlongs in 1:08.78, was one of three winners on the card for Landeros.