Alternation, who saw a four-stakes win streak snap in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap June 16, returns to action for owner-breeder Pin Oak Stable and trainer Donnie Von Hemel in Saturday's $200,000 Governor's Cup at Remington Park. The son of Distorted Humor figures to be a prohibitive favorite against four rivals going 1 1/8 miles.
Kick-starting his campaign with three straight wins at Oaklawn -- in the Essex Handicap, Grade 3 Razorback Handicap and Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, the latter over divisional heavyweight Ron the Greek -- Alternation next traveled to Baltimore for the Grade 3 Pimlico Special. A brave winner of that 1 3/16-mile test by a nose, he was a cold 7-1 on the tote board when reappearing in the Stephen Foster. The less than enthusiastic response from bettors was ultimately proved right as Alternation finished a non-threatening fifth behind old rival Ron the Greek.
Hero of the Grade 2 Peter Pan last season, Alternation has shown much more consistency since adding blinkers last fall. He wore them for the first time in his most recent visit to Remington for last October's Oklahoma Derby, which he lost by a head to Redeemed. Regular rider Luis Quinonez will be back in the saddle for the Governor's Cup.
The most serious threat to Alternation, on paper at least, is Prayer for Relief. The Zayat Stables charge captured the Grade 2 Super Derby, Grade 2 West Virginia Derby and Grade 3 Iowa Derby last season, but has subsequently dropped eight starts since the Super Derby last September. Most recently sixth in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap, he previously placed in four Grade 2 events in Southern California this term.
Prayer for Relief and Alternation met twice in 2011. Alternation finished fourth, four lengths behind his rival, in the Super Derby, but finished one position ahead of Prayer for Relief, by three parts of a length, in the Oklahoma Derby.
The field is completed by the Louisiana-bred Get in Da House, who placed in a pair of Grade 3s at Lone Star in the spring; multiple stakes winner Stachys, who invades from Canterbury; and multiple Grade 3-placed Dreaminofthewin.
A competitive field of eight will line up for the $100,000 David M. Vance Sprint going six furlongs, with Apprehender, Solar Charge, Joe Hollywood, Alsvid and Okie Ride all likely to garner wagering support.