Alternation, Picko's Pride Ready to Run in Rebel

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10:53 am EDT

Alternation and Picko's Pride both worked at Oaklawn yesterday, and the trainers of both say they are ready to run in Saturday's Grade III Rebel.

Donnie K. Von Hemel sent Alternation to an easy half-mile workout in :48.60 (1/4) yesterday under regular jockey Luis Quinonez.

“It looked like he went well,” said Von Hemel. “I caught him going out in 1:02 4/5 and it was nice and easy. He’s kind of deceiving the way he strides, you look down at your watch and you don’t think he’s going that fast, but he really is. Everything is good right now.”

Alternation is two-for-two this season at Oaklawn and three-for-four overall, with wins over expected Rebel rivals Elite Alex and Dreaminofthewin in his two allowance victories. His sire, Distorted Humor, is best known as the dad of 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide. Alternation’s dam, Alternate, was a multiple stakes-winner and is a daughter of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.

A big performance this weekend would elevate Quinonez, 44, into the national spotlight for the first time. His younger brother, Alonso, rode Premier Pegasus to win the Grade II San Felipe Stakes last Saturday.

Picko’s Pride Keeps Impressing Robertson

Trainer Mac Robertson knew he was asking Picko’s Pride to take a big step up when he ran in the Grade III Southwest Stakes, but the colt closed well to finish fourth. He's returned to the track for two nice workouts, and the trainer says he has more confidence heading into Saturday’s Rebel.

Despite rainy conditions, the Cactus Ridge colt breezed Monday in 1:00.80 (2/12) over a wet-fast track beneath jockey Israel Ocampo, who will have the mount in the Rebel.

“It was a nice work, the best he’s ever trained,” said Robertson. “I got him galloping out in 12. Maybe he went a little faster because of the rain, but it was a good work.”

Expect Picko's Pride to try and pick up the pieces in a style similar to the one he used in the Southwest, but perhaps he won't be quite as far back during the early running in the Rebel.

"I don't know if we could have beaten the winner, but we were so adamant about dropping to last out of there, that we ended up way out of it," Robertson said after the race. "He waited a little bit, but he galloped out really well, and with the winners. We'd have loved to have gone a mile and a sixteenth that day, and that's what we get next time. He's just a little horse, but sometimes those little ones surprise you. They can run farther than you think."

--Edited from track notes