The son of Distorted Humor came from off the pace, entered four-wide into the lane, and ran down 3-1 favorite Adios Charlie in the last couple jumps to take the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan by a head. It was the first stakes win for Alternation, who was ridden to victory by Ramon Dominguez for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.
After winning a pair of races to start his season, 3-year-old Alternation flipped in the gate and had to be scratched from the March 19 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park. In the April 16 Arkansas Derby (gr. I), he broke very slowly and though finishing strongly, was a well-beaten fifth. Those failed attempts made the Peter Pan win that much sweeter for the connections.
Alternation raced in seventh through the early going, while 31-1 shot Bold Deed set the pace under Channing Hill. Jerome (gr. II) winner Adios Charlie, Illinois Derby (gr. III) winner Joe Vann, and Prime Cut chased the leader through splits of :23.78, :47.14, and 1:11.90.
Coming off the final turn Bold Deed, Adios Charlie, and Joe Vann were barely separated, but Adios Charlie and Rajiv Maragh, between horses, edged clear to lead by two lengths at mid-stretch. Meanwhile, Alternation, who moved into contention from sixth around the turn on the outside, was just finding his best stride. He used the entire final furlong to run down his rival under good handling from Dominguez.
The final time for nine furlongs on the fast track was 1:49.53. Adios Charlie was 4 1/2 lengths in front of Prime Cut and Edgar Prado. Joe Vann was fourth in the field of 10, followed by Bold Deed, Monzon, Beer Meister, Newsdad, Uncle Brent and Tap Attack.
"The front wasn’t really coming back at all and my horse just kept grinding and tried pretty hard," Dominguez said. "I was very impressed. He’s a beautiful, big animal and they told me before the race, ‘You’ll be surprised; when you ask him, you’ll get horse right away. It’s not like he takes a couple strides.’
"Sure enough, around the half-mile I had to kind of smooch him to get through on the rail. (He responded) and then I had to kind of slam on the brakes because I had nowhere to go once I got through. It was good to see that as big as he is, he’s also got tactical speed and more than one gear.”
Alternation, who broke his maiden at Remington Park in December and scored a pair of allowances wins at Oaklawn to begin his sophomore season, has earned $215,004 from six starts. Von Hemel indicated that his charge will likely be headed back to his Arlington Park base. A start in the June 11 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) might be next.
The winner was bred in Kentucky and is out of the Seattle Slew mare Alternate.
Alternation paid $9.40, $4.40, and $2.80. The exacta (6-8) returned $42.80 and the trifecta (6-8-4) was worth $182.