FRANKLIN, KY – Michael Hui’s Zulu Alpha took over after sitting the perfect stalking trip and drew off in the stretch to dominate Saturday’s $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes (G3) at Kentucky Downs.
Breaking from post 9 under Jose Ortiz as the 2/1 second choice on the tote, Zulu Alpha raced wide in the clear but within a few lengths of early leader Factor This. Just before the 1/4 pole, Ortiz peeked back to see who was coming after him before giving his steed the green light.
Drawing alongside and soon past Factor This near the 3/16 pole, Zulu Alpha sprung free and kicked home strongly to beat Arklow by 3 1/4 lengths. The Mike Maker trainee completed the 1 1/2-mile event over the firm turf course in a final time of 2:28.62.
“I was more worried about Arklow because I know he could handle the distance,” Ortiz said. “I smooched at my horse passing the 3/8 (pole) and he was there for me, so I was very confident waiting for him. When we passed the 1/4 pole, I went on. I didn’t feel (Arklow) closing on. I said, ‘Alright, let’s go.’ He exploded. He gave me a great run.”
Arklow, the 8/5 favorite and defending champion, came running on late but was unable to reel in the winner and had to settle for second. Campaign‘s first turf start in nearly a year resulted in a good fourth, though he wasn’t able to replicate the local success he enjoyed last year when winning twice in the 2018 meet.
Factor This weakened to fourth, necking out My Boy Jack for that position, while Blended Citizen was another 1/2-length back in sixth. Pillar Mountain, Noble Thought, Hello Don Julio, Botswana, and Gliding Alone completed the order of finish. Bigger Picture, Golden Dragon, and Zero Gravity were scratched.
Zulu Alpha’s win was his third of the year, having taken the W. L. McKnight Stakes (G3) and the Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park in the spring. The 6-year-old gelded son of Street Cry, bred by race sponsor Calumet Farm, now carries a record of 28-9-4-5 and eclipsed the seven-figure earnings mark, increasing it to $1,172,544. The Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf (G1) could be next.
“Everything is on the table and (Hui) pays the bills,” Maker said. “He’ll have final say if we go to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Zulu Alpha returned $6.20 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.60 to show. Arklow brought back $3 to place and $2.20 to show, while Campaign paid $3 to show.