Keeneland’s closing-day stakes recaps (Photo above: Tyler Gaffalione guides Zulu Alpha to Elkhorn victory. Coady Photography)
Click here for a replay of the TVG Elkhorn and interviews
with jockey Tyler Gaffalione and trainer Mike Maker
Michael Hui’s even-money favorite Zulu Alpha surged past longshot pacesetter Postulation in deep stretch by three-quarters of a length to win Sunday afternoon’s 35th running of the $175,000 TVG Elkhorn (G2) for 4-year-olds and up in the final race of the five-day Keeneland Summer Meet.
Trained by Mike Maker and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, Zulu Alpha completed the 1½ miles on a turf course rated as good in 2:30.82. The victory secured the Summer Meet riding title for Gaffalione with seven wins and gave Maker three winners on the afternoon, including the Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3) two races prior with Field Pass.
It was the fourth Elkhorn victory for Maker, who won last year with Bigger Picture with Gaffalione aboard, in 2016 with Da Big Hoss and 2013 with Dark Cove.
Postulation led the field of 11 through unopposed fractions of :25.56, :52.02, 1:18.14 and 1:43.20 as Zulu Alpha raced back in ninth.
Gaffalione began to pick off horses on the far turn and then swung six wide in the stretch for clear sailing at Postulation, who did not give way until inside the sixteenth pole.
The victory was worth $105,000 and improved Zulu Alpha’s career earnings to $2,165,114 with a record of 34-12-5-5 that includes last year’s $1 million . Sunday’s triumph was the seventh graded stakes victory for Zulu Alpha, who also won the 2018 Sycamore (G3) at Keeneland.
Zulu Alpha is a 7-year-old Kentucky-bred gelded son of Street Cry (IRE) out of the A.P. Indy mare Zori. He paid $4, $2.80 and $2.60. Postulation, ridden by Julien Leparoux, returned $22 and $11.40 and finished 1¼ lengths front of Nakamura, who paid $6.20 to show under John Velazquez.
Jais’s Solitude finished another 1¼ lengths back in fourth and was followed in order by Ry’s the Guy, Arklow, Oscar Dominguez (IRE), He’s No Lemon, Apreciado, Henley’s Joy and Hellorhighwater.
TVG Elkhorn Quotes
Tyler Gaffalione: “(Being the Summer Meet’s leading rider) feels amazing. I’m so glad to be getting the opportunities that I’ve been getting.”
How straightforward is Zula Alpha to ride? “He’s as easy as they come. He just drops his head and you let him do his thing. He knows where the wire is. He’s got some turn of foot.”
Is this one of the more impressive wins that he’s had? “He’s just keeps getting better and better throughout the year. All credit goes to (trainer) Mike (Maker) and his team. I’m just blessed to be part of it.”
Mike Maker: “After Gulfstream (where he won the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational-G1 and Mac Diarmida-G2 and was second in the Kitten’s Joy Pan American-G2), we sent him to the farm again. We got delayed with the virus. Going a mile and a half, you’re always a little bit concerned. But even I can’t mess this one up.”
What do you map out between now and the fall? “Beginning of the year, our plans got changed a little bit because of the virus. But it was Kentucky Downs and then the Breeders’ Cup (at Keeneland).”
Michael Matz, trainer of runner-up Postulation: “We’re quite proud of him the way he ran. He’s been off for almost seven months. He’s no spring chicken, so we were really pleased the way he ran today. It was a shame he couldn’t last (on the lead) a little longer, but that’s what happens. Sometimes you get beat. But we were really proud of him. He tried hard and didn’t give up the whole way. We were pleased with his effort. He’s been a good horse for us. He always tries and he does what he can do. That’s all you can ask of a horse.”
Graham Motion, trainer of third-place finisher Nakamura: “I was very pleased with the race for him coming off that (eight-month layoff). He is very competitive with these types of horses. He ran like he was fit enough. The (very slow) pace probably did not help us, but winner came from about where we were.”
On Nakamura’s next race: “Possibly the Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga (on Aug. 1) would be an option for sure. (The Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland) would be ambitious at this staloage, but never say never. I love the Breeders’ Cup.”
Field Pass Edges Street Ready to Win Kentucky Utilities Transylvania
Click here for a replay of the Kentucky Utilities Transylvania
and interviews with jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. and trainer Mike Maker
Three Diamonds Farm’s Field Pass held off Street Ready by a nose to win the 32nd running of the $100,000 Kentucky Utilities Transylvania (G3) for 3-year-olds.
Trained by Mike Maker and ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., Field Pass covered the 1 1/16 miles on a turf course labeled good in 1:42.56.
Juggernaut led the field through fractions of :23.33, :47.76 and 1:12.45 with Fancy Liquor and Street Ready in closest pursuit and Field Pass saving ground in fifth.
In the stretch, Fancy Liquor pushed to the front but was joined at midstretch by Field Pass on his outside. Those two were immediately joined by Street Ready, who ducked to the inside under Chris Landeros. The trio dueled to the wire with Field Pass barely prevailing.
The victory, the fourth stakes triumph and second Grade 3 win for Field Pass, was worth $60,000 and increased the colt’s bankroll to $418,610.
Field Pass is a Maryland-bred son of Lemon Drop Kid out of the Runaway Groom mare Only Me.
Sent off as the favorite in the field of 10, Field Pass returned $6.40, $4.40 and $3.60. Street Ready paid $12.60 and $7.60 and finished a neck ahead of Fancy Liquor, who paid $5.20 to show under Florent Geroux.
It was another half-length back to City Man, who was followed in order by Spanish Kingdom, Bama Breeze, Irish Mias, Vintage Print, Kinenos and Juggernaut.
Kentucky Utilities Transylvania Quotes
Ricardo Santana Jr.: “He was sitting behind the speed, perfect. Turning for home, I took him out. He got in the clear and started running. Every time he saw those two horses on the inside he kept fighting.”
Mike Maker: “This horse loves to win. He’s all heart. As Ricardo said, he never really doubted (Field Pass) would win. When he thought he was getting the lead, he started kinda backing off. When he felt the pressure, he dug back in.”
Will he get better in longer races for 3-year-olds? “I think so. We’re gonna find out.”
In partnership with Keeneland, sponsor Kentucky Utilities has provided $7,500 in matching funds to support God’s Pantry Food Bank and Nourish Lexington, two programs that are teaming to provide meals to those in need in Lexington during the current COVID-19 outbreak.
Keeneland is a proud founding partner of Nourish Lexington, which uses the skills and talents of displaced hospitality employees to prepare and serve these meals. Since its inception on April 1, Nourish Lexington has served more than 80,000 meals.
God’s Pantry is critical to Nourish Lexington because many ingredients for meals are from the food bank.
To support this effort, please click here.