Michael Hui’s Zulu Alpha, the celebrated winner of last month’s Pegasus Turf, proved his class once again by defending his title in Saturday’s Grade 2 Mac Diarmida Stakes at Gulfstream.
Zulu Alpha ran near the back of the nine-horse field early before sweeping to the lead on the far outside around the turn and outrunning a game Admission Office to the wire. The winning time was 2:11.47 over a firm turf course.
“Not much to say,” said winning trainer Mike Maker. “Give him a shot and put him in a position to win at the quarter pole. We’re looking at Old Forester Derby Day and Arlington Million and Breeders’ Cup. He’s been effective 1 ½, 1 3/8 and 1 3/16 – he’s a nice horse to have.”
It was a different trip than last time for even-money favorite Zulu Alpha, who skimmed the rail all the way around to win the Pegasus World Cup Turf by two lengths. The 7-year-old gelding now has six career graded-stakes victories, four of them at Gulfstream, including last year’s Mac Diarmida and W. L. McKnight (G3). He is four-for-five lifetime at Gulfstream.
“He’s incredible,” said winning jockey Tyler Gaffalione. “He just gives you so much confidence and he’s so fun to ride. It was great because coming down the stretch for the first time I looked at the infield screen, I saw 23 [seconds opening fraction] and I was smiling. I knew they were setting a nice tempo in front of me so I wasn’t too worried.”
Admission Office stayed up for second, followed by Sadler’s Joy, Channel Maker, Spooky Channel, A Thread of Blue, Nessy, early pacesetter Morocco and Armistice Day.
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