HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Michael Hui’s Zulu Alpha didn’t need to go last-to-first in order to gamely get the job done for his second career graded score in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 W. L. McKnight Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking from post 4 as the 2/1 favorite under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Zulu Alpha soon cleared his inside foes and settled along the rail while All Go took command and led by 2 lengths for much of the early going. Heading into the far turn, Zulu Alpha had to hold up because All Go began dropping off in front of him and other foes got the jump going along his outside. His rider never panicked, though, and instead waited for room to appear, which soon came when a hole emerged between All Go and Village King. Zulu Alpha shot through like a rocket but was quickly met with an outside challenge from Soglio, ridden by Irad’s younger brother Jose. The Ortiz family battle raged on the length of the stretch, but in the end, it was Irad who came out on top aboard the Mike Maker trainee in a final time of 2:36.80 for the 1 1/2-mile marathon turf event.
European invader Hunting Horn was able to get up late for third by a head over Hunter O’Riley, with Canessar necking out Nessy for fifth. Village King faded to seventh ahead of Winter Union, with All Go crossing a spent ninth. Can’thelpbelieving, Sentry, Hay Dakota, and Johnny Bear completed the order of finish. Highland Sky, Markitoff, and Postulation were scratched.
Zulu Alpha’s win was his first for Maker and his second in three career starts since Hui claimed him for $80,000 on September 14. The 6-year-old gelded son of Street Cry, whose debut in Hui’s silks was a score in the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes, now carries a record of 22-7-3-4 with $353,814 in earnings.
Zulu Alpha returned $6.60 to win, $3.80 to place, and $3.20 to show. Soglio brought back $4.40 to place and $3.20 to show, while Hunting Horn paid $4.80 to show.