HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Michael Hui’s Zulu Alpha made a successful return after a close fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), zooming away along the inside to capture Saturday’s $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes Presented by Runhappy (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
Sent postward from the rail at 11/1 odds under Tyler Gaffalione, Zulu Alpha was keen early but had to be reined in to avoid running up on the heels of Instilled Regard after Magic Wand crossed over from the far outside post 12 and created a domino effect. The globe-trotting mare Magic Wand set the early pace up front, posting fractions of :24.06, :48.45, and 1:11.94.
After settling along the inside within 4-5 lengths of the early lead, Zulu Alpha rated well down the backstretch and was running well within himself as he rounded the far turn. At the top of the stretch, Zulu Alpha continued hugging the rail while several foes went after the lead from the outside.
Magic Wand drifted off the rail slightly, giving Zulu Alpha enough room to squeeze through with a sharp turn of foot. Kept to task under Gaffalione, Zulu Alpha drew off in the late stages to win by 2 lengths in a final time of 1:51.60 for the 1 3/16-mile event over the firm turf course.
“The horse broke well and the speed set up in front of us,” Gaffalione said. “I was able to let my horse settle. They just kept opening up and I didn’t see any reason to go around them, so we just stayed on the fence, and he really exploded down in there and finished the job. He honestly got more competitive down in there.”
Magic Wand held onto second by a neck over Instilled Regard, who looked loaded off of the far turn but had to wait too long for running room and came up short. A four-way photo for fourth was very tight, but Sacred Life ultimately got the nod by a head over Arklow.
It was another head back to the sixth-placed Sadler’s Joy, who nosed out Henley’s Joy after getting squeezed several lengths back to the rear at the start of the race. Admission Office, Mo Forza, Channel Cat, the non-firing 3/1 favorite Without Parole, and Next Shares completed the order of finish.
Tusk was scratched after failing to draw in from the Also Eligibles list.
Zulu Alpha’s win was his first since taking the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) last September and improved his overall record to 31-10-4-5. The 7-year-old gelded son of Street Cry, claimed for $80,000 from breeder Calumet Farm in September of 2018, has now earned $1,971,674.
“When he shot up the rail, I screamed my lungs out,” Hui said. “I just watched, stoodl and screamed. It’s just an unbelievable feeling. I never thought I would win a Grade 1.”
Zulu Alpha returned $25.60 to win, $11.40 to place, and $7.60 to show. Magic Wand brought back $5.40 to place and $3.80 to show, while Instilled Regard paid $6.60 to show.