News and STORIES

Zulu Alpha Outruns Postulation in Elkhorn

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Monday July 13, 2020
Zulu Alpha scored his 12th career victory in Sunday's close of the Keeneland summer meet, solidifying his spot as one of the best horses still running. The victory in the $175,000 TVG Elkhorn Stakes (G2T) was his third time in the winner's circle this year.

Michael Hui's 7-year-old gelding came up from the back of the field to finish three-quarters of a length in front.

The Running

Zulu Alpha broke from post 4 under jockey Tyler Gaffalione in the 1 1/2-mile test before being bumped by horses and fell back to ninth. Through the first half-mile, the son of Street Cry ran far off the pace. The field was led by Postulation, ridden by Julien Leparoux.

Postulation ran on the inside and set a moderate pace through fractions of :25.56, :52.02, and 1:18.14 through six furlongs. Ry's the Guy chased the leader throughout the race, and he challenged for the lead to the outside under Chris Landeros. 

Zulu Alpha moved up from ninth to seventh before working his way up to fifth as the field entered the turn for home.

As the field reached the top of the stretch, Postulation still led the field. He extended his lead to a length at the start of the final turn, but Zulu Alpha began to pressure. Zulu Alpha went four and then five wide before taking a head lead at the top of the stretch. 

The leads swapped at the furlong pole, and the leaders made brief contact with each other after Zulu Alpha moved in during the final strides. There was one more lead swap when there was the final sixteenth left, and Zulu Alpha was able to keep the lead and win in 2:30.82.

Postulation tried to rally but didn't have enough in the tank and finished second. Postulation is trained by Michael Matz. 

"We're quite proud of him the way he ran. He's been off for almost seven months," said Matz. "He's no spring chicken, so we were really pleased the way he ran today. It was a shame he couldn't last (on the lead) a little longer, but that's what happens. 

"Sometimes, you get beat. But we were really proud of him. He tried hard and didn't give up the whole way. We were pleased with his effort. He's been a good horse for us. He always tries, and he does what he can do. That's all you can ask of a horse."

Nakamura made a late run from the back and managed to move up to finish third, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Jais's Solitude in fourth.

"He's as easy as they come. He just drops his head, and you let him do his thing," Gaffalione said. "He knows where the wire is. He's got some turn of foot. He just keeps getting better and better throughout the year. All credit goes to (trainer) Mike (Maker) and his team. I'm just blessed to be part of it."

Coming Into the Race

Zulu Alpha came into the Elkhorn after a second-place finish in the March 28 Kitten's Joy Pan American Stakes (G2T) at Gulfstream Park, which was his only misstep of the season. He kicked off this year with two consecutive victories in the Jan. 25 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes (G1T) and the Feb. 29 Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2T) at Gulfstream.

"After Gulfstream, we sent him to the farm again," Maker said. "We got delayed with the virus. Going a mile and a half, you're always a little bit concerned. But even I can't mess this one up."

Zulu Alpha was bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm and out of the A.P. Indy mare Zori. Hui claimed him for $80,000 from an allowance optional claiming event at Churchill Downs in 2018. 

He now has a 12-5-5 record from 34 starts with earnings of $2,165,114.