John Ortiz wins first graded stakes as trainer

LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 18, 2018) – John Ortiz earned his first graded-stakes triumph less than two years into his training career as Michael Hui’s Zulu Alpha slipped through along the inside rail at the sixteenth pole to get the lead from favored Arklow and went on to a 2-length victory in the 24th running of Keeneland’s $100,000 Sycamore (G3).

John Ortiz/Coady Photography

Ridden by Channing Hill, Zulu Alpha covered the 1½ miles on a turf course labeled as good in 2:34.21. Final Copy raced off to an uncontested lead with Zulu Alpha in closest pursuit through early fractions of :26.54 and :52.64. Going into the second turn, Arklow moved up to challenge Final Copy with the latter maintaining a narrow edge until the final turn when Arklow pushed to the front.

Hill, who won his third Keeneland graded stakes, angled off the rail from fourth place at the head of the lane and then ducked back to the inside for clear sailing en route to the victory.

Claimed out of his most recent start last month at Churchill Downs for $80,000, Zulu Alpha is a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred gelded son of Street Cry (IRE) out of the A.P. Indy mare Zori. The $60,000 winner’s share boosted his earnings to $237,734 with a record of 20-6-3-4. It is his first stakes victory.

“I enjoyed watching him,” Ortiz said of claiming Zulu Alpha. “He runs really big every time he

runs, especially his last three starts. Right now I’m speechless and very thankful.”

Zulu Alpha returned $16.20, $7.40 and $5. Arklow, ridden by Florent Geroux, returned $3.80 and $2.60 and finished 2¼ lengths in front of Bigger Picture, who paid $3.60 to show under Tyler Gaffalione.

Final Copy finished another neck back in fourth and was followed in order by Some in Tieme (BRZ), Harlan Strong (ARG), Can’thelpbelieving (IRE), Oscar Nominated, Nessy, Campaign and Slickly Done.

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Jennie Rees

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