April 14, 2012
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, April 14, 2012) – Pin Oak Stable’s Alternation went to the lead and never looked back in the 66th running of the $400,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G3) Saturday afternoon, continuing his dominance of the handicap division with a perfect 3-for-3 record at Oaklawn in 2012.
“I don’t think you can measure how satisfying this is,” said trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel. “It’s a race that I’ve been second in, hit the board in and it was always an out-of-town horse that won it. To have a horse, that got the job done is all because of Pin Oak and their breeding program. We knew this was a crossroads race for him. Now, we know we can look at races like the Pimlico Special, the Stephen Foster or maybe something in New York.”
Alternation rolled off a score in the March 10 Razorback Handicap (G3) to claim the 1 1/8-mile test for older horses, improving his career record to 7-1-1 from 12 starts and earnings of $720,004. The 4-year-old homebred son of Distorted Humor took control on his own soon after the start, continued to show the way while rating through modest fractions of 23.91 and 48.30, and pulled away late under steady handling by jockey Luis Quinonez to get the distance in a final time of 1:49.94. Ron the Greek closed gamely for second but was still 2 ½ lengths behind the leader, while Yawanna Twist finished third.
“We had a dream trip,” Quinonez said. “He did everything I asked him to. Donnie and his team had him ready and have done a great job with him. What the horse did today was awesome and he has been awesome every race this year. I couldn’t be more proud. I want to thank the owners. He is my big horse and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Sent off at odds of 3-1, Alternation returned $9.20, $4.60, and $3.40. Ron the Greek paid $3.80 and $3.20, while Yawanna Twist brought $5.80. Hymn Book, Stachys, Nehro, Win Willy, and Don Dulce completed the order of finish.
"I think we can be very happy with this effort,” said Rudolph Basset, assistant to trainer Bill Mott, of Ron the Greek’s finish. “We were a little wide in the first turn but the horse did a great job, he came running. If the winner went a little faster up front we would have won the race. I think we can be proud of the horse and we're very, very happy. We've got a good season coming up down the road. The year is long. He'll ship back to Lexington and ride from there to New York on Monday."
Outta Tune Takes Count Fleet, Master Rick Wins Northern Spur
Two races prior, Maggi Moss’s Outta Tune extended a three-race winning streak at Oaklawn to four and got his first graded stakes win in the 39th running of the Count Fleet Handicap (G3). Closest to a pace set by the filly, even-money favorite Izzy Rules, Outta Tune moved up to challenge late in the turn and put a head in front when straightened for home. The 7-year-old Jump Start gelding held off the late run of Apriority who was far on the outside to earn his sixth lifetime win in 12 starts by half a length for trainer Chris Richard. Final time for six furlongs was 1:09.35.
“I thought he had a good chance, but what he showed today was unexpected,” Richard remarked. “We went through a lot to get where we are today. We knew he was a nice horse at three and four. He deserves all the credit today.”
Sent off at odds of 4-1, Outta Tune paid $10.80, $4, and $3. Apriority brought $3.40 and $3, while Hamazing Destiny returned $3.20. Izzy Rules faded to fifth in the six-horse field.
“This track was different than this mare was used to,” jockey Edwin Maldonado said of the California shipper trained by Jeff Bonde. “When I asked her to run there on the turn, she started struggling and never really did get to going again."
Between the Count Fleet and the Oaklawn Handicap, Richard L. Davis’s Master Rick gave trainer Steve Asmussen his fifth winner on the card in the $100,000 Northern Spur Stakes. The 3-year-old son of Master Command sat in second just off a pace set by 20-1 shot Double Rah Rah, easily took command heading off the far turn, and turned back the challenge of Drill to win by a 1 1/4-length margin in a final time of 1:36.73. Jockey Corey Nakatani was in the saddle on the $12.60, $3.40, and $2.20. Drill returned $2.20 and $2.10. Explain finished third and paid $2.10.