LEXINGTON, KY – Michael Hui’s multiple graded stakes champion Zulu Alpha returns Sunday to kick off his summer campaign in the $175,000 TVG Elkhorn Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.
The Elkhorn is a 1 1/2-mile, three-turn turf route for horses ages 4 and up. This year’s running will be the final race of both the Sunday card and the 2020 Keeneland summer meet as a whole.
Here is a look at the full field for the Elkhorn:
1. Apreciado 30/1 – Zulu Alpha’s stablemate in the Mike Maker barn returned from over four months away in the 1 1/2-mile Louisville Stakes (G3) last month, running seventh. His prior form reflects an ability to improve in his second start after layoffs, and his final start before a brief respite saw him finish third in the 1 1/2-mile W. L. McKnight Stakes (G3).
2. Nakamura 8/1 – The multiple stakes-placed Graham Motion trainee makes his first start since the Red Smith Stakes (G3) last November, where he finished fifth. He has shown a propensity for this distance (4-0-2-2 record) and Motion is a sharp 23% with runners returning from layoffs of at least 180 days.
3. Ramsey Solution 20/1 – Though his career debut last October over this course left much to be desired, he subsequently reeled off 3 wins and a runner-up effort in his next 4 starts, split between turf and synthetic surfaces. He projects to be on the early lead and could prove dangerous if allowed to relax and gallop.
4. Postulation 15/1 – The grizzled 8-year-old veteran consistently shows up with a good effort in longer turf races, putting together a distance record of 10-2-2-2 that includes both victories against stakes rivals. Like Nakamura, he is unraced since last November’s Red Smith Stakes (G3), but he won last August’s Presious Passion Stakes at Monmouth Park after a nearly-identical layoff, so expect him to fire fresh.
5. Zulu Alpha 8/5 – The morning line favorite is expected to go off at even shorter odds, due in large part to his near-flawless 2020 that includes victories in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) and the Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2). Despite losing last time out by a neck in the Pan American Stakes (G2), he is squarely the one to beat on paper as he returns to the site of his first-ever stakes score, the 2018 Sycamore (G3).
6. Jais’s Solitude 15/1 – Like many in this field, he exits the Louisville Stakes (G3), where he was 2 lengths behind the winner in fifth while enduring some contact. He crossed the wire first in the Bald Eagle Derby, his only prior attempt at this distance, but he was disqualified and placed sixth after causing problems in the stretch.
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7. He’s No Lemon 8/1 – He came out of last September’s Bald Eagle Derby victorious after Jais’s Solitude was disqualified, then made a valiant run in the stretch to get third in the Louisville Stakes (G3) last time out. That was his first start since the Bald Eagle Derby, so expect him to show improvement in his second start back.
8. Hellorhighwater 50/1 – It took him 8 tries to break his maiden, ultimately getting the job done while going this distance at Kentucky Downs last August. His 2020 debut in May can be forgiven because it was rained off the turf, but he will need to greatly improve off of his effort last time out, when he finished sixth against optional claimers.
9. Oscar Dominguez 10/1 – One of the most consistent distance turfers in southern California, he leaves home for the first time since 2015, when he spent his juvenile campaign in his native Ireland with world-elite trainer Aidan O’Brien. His past 6 starts all came at 1 1/4 miles or longer and resulted in a record of 1-2-2, including winning the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2).
10. Arklow 3/1 – He broke a string of near-misses last October when he won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) while covering this distance at Belmont Park. He finished off the board against the best of the best in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) and the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), then just missed winning the Louisville Stakes (G3) last time out after a five-month layoff.
11. Ry’s the Guy 15/1 – Though both career wins came going shorter, he seems comfortable going longer – he was second by a 1/2-length in last September’s 1 5/16-mile Dueling Grounds Derby and most recently got caught in the final stages of the Louisville Stakes (G3). Chris Landeros, aboard for all 12 prior career starts, has the mount once again for father-in-law trainer Ian Wilkes.
12. Hierarchy 30/1 – A 2-length victory over optional claiming rivals last month earned him a debut attempt at the stakes level. He has a record of 4-1-2-1 when going at least 1 1/4 miles on turf and trainer Joe Sharp hits at 27% with older turf horses exiting victory.
13. Henley’s Joy 15/1 – He was mostly brilliant early in his career, winning 3 of his first 5 starts, but he has only returned to victory lane once since December 2018. While that came in the 1 1/4-mile Belmont Derby (G1), that was also his last time hitting the board, so he will need to show improvement from his past 7 starts, the most recent one finishing ninth in March’s Muniz Memorial (G2).