Zulu Alpha Springs 11-1 Upset in Pegasus World Cup Turf
Jan 25, 2020
Millionaire Rides Rail to Score First G1 Triumph in 1 3/16-Mile Stakes
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– Michael Hui’s multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Zulu Alpha added another chapter to his success story, slipping through an opening along the rail in deep stretch to pass Irish import Magic Wand and go on to an 11-1 upset of Saturday’s $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
The second running of the 1 3/16-mile Pegasus Turf and the fourth renewal of the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at 1 1/8 miles on dirt comprised the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series presented by Runhappy, headlining a blockbuster 12-race program featuring nine stakes, six graded, worth $5.2 million in purses.
For the first time, both the Pegasus and Pegasus Turf were run free of any medications, heralding a new era in the sport of Thoroughbred racing in North America. The medication-free policy is consistent with the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA) standards. Two percent of the purses will go back to Thoroughbred aftercare.
Trained by Mike Maker and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, born and raised in nearby Davie, Fla., Zulu Alpha ($25.60) completed the distance in 1:51.60 over a firm course for his fifth career graded-stakes victory and first in Grade 1 company. It was also the first Grade 1 win for Hui, who purchased his first horses in 2010 and has been working with Maker since 2015.
“When he shot up the rail, I screamed my lungs out,” Hui said. “I just watched, stood and screamed. It’s just an unbelievable feeling. I never thought I would win a Grade 1.”
Zulu Alpha, a 7-year-old son of Street Cry, was racing for the first time since making a six-wide move to rally from last to fourth, beaten 1 ¼ lengths, in the 1 ½-mile Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. He improved to three-for-four at Gulfstream, his other wins coming in the W. L. McKnight (G3) and Mac Diarmida (G2) last winter.
“Just a great horse,” Maker said. “I thought he got unlucky in the Breeders’ Cup or he might have gotten a bigger slice there. He got some time off after that and he really thrived coming in.”
Breaking from the rail in a full field of 12, Gaffalione settled Zulu Alpha in mid-pack on the inside as well-traveled Group 1 winner Magic Wand, a narrow second choice at 7-2, was directed to the lead from their far outside post by jockey Ryan Moore and set moderate fractions of 24.06 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 48.45 for the half, chased closest by Zulu Alpha’s stablemate, 25-1 long shot Henley’s Joy.
Magic Wand continued to lead the way after six furlongs in 1:11.94 as Gaffalione remained patient while awaiting room on the inside. Henley’s Joy cut Magic Wand’s lead to a head straightening for home while Zulu Alpha loomed dangerously in third. Gaffalione pounced on the leader inside the eighth pole and sprinted clear to win by two lengths, while Magic Wand held on gamely for second by a neck over Instilled Regard.
“The horse broke well and the speed set up in front of us. I was able to let my horse settle,” Gaffalione said. “They just kept opening up and I didn’t see any reason to go around them, so we just stayed on the fence. He really exploded down in there and finished the job. He honestly got more competitive down in there.”
Sacred Life emerged from a four-way photo to get fourth by a head over Arklow. They were followed by Sadler’s Joy, who made a strong run after getting pinched back to last at the break; Henley’s Joy, Admission Office, Mo Forza, Channel Cat, 3-1 favorite Without Parole and Next Shares.
Instilled Regard, Sacred Life and Without Parole are all trained by Chad Brown, who captured the inaugural running of the Pegasus Turf in 2019 with Bricks and Mortar. Bricks and Mortar would go on to a perfect 6-0 record and be voted Horse of the Year.
Zulu Alpha earned his 10th win from 31 starts and pushed his career earnings near $2 million. Given a short break after the Breeders’ Cup, he had been working steadily for his return both at Gulfstream and its satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, Palm Meadows.
“Since he’s been back, he’s been a lot sharper,” Maker said. “For a million dollars, you have to take a shot, and it paid off.”