He upset the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) in late January, but Zulu Alpha isn’t done yet at Gulfstream Park this winter. The Mike Maker-trained 7-year-old will be back for Saturday’s $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) before getting a break to prepare for the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) on Kentucky Derby Day.
The 1 3/16-mile World Cup was Zulu Alpha’s first win at the top level, but the Street Cry gelding made his mark in longer races like the Mac Diarmida, a 1 3/8-mile event he won last year by three-quarters of a length.
“He came out super,” Maker said. “He’s a very big horse, he carries a lot of flesh. He continues to do well and we’re looking forward to another big effort. We’re hoping for a long career.”
The tough field includes Grade 1 veterans Sadler’s Joy, sixth behind Zulu Alpha in the Pegasus, and Channel Maker, who looks to snap a streak of unplaced finishes in four prior tries on the Gulfstream lawn.
Spooky Channel enters off a 36-1 upset of the W. L. McKnight (G3) over 1 1/2 miles, while A Thread of Blue will look to stretch his speed after a dull try last out in the Tropical Turf (G3).
Mr Freeze, second to Mucho Gusto in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) last time, shortens up Saturday for the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2), but faces a large, quality field that includes the Fred W. Hooper (G3) one-two Phat Man and Zenden.
Mr Freeze won as far as a nine furlongs in the West Virginia Derby (G3) in 2018, but also displayed his one-turn mile credentials with a strong win in the Ack Ack (G3) at Churchill last fall.
“It may be his best distance. It’s a Catch 22. A horse like him I think is better if you go further if they’ll leave you alone on the lead and you can kick home the last part of it – make it a sprint for home,” trainer Dale Romans said. “But he’s shown he can go gate-to-wire at the distance.”
Last year’s Florida Derby (G1) runner-up Bodexpress figures to show speed from the rail, while Woody Stephens (G1) winner Hog Creek Hustle and Gotham (G3) scorer Haikal are among several that will do their best running late.
In other stakes action, Caribou Club and Hembree will look to rebound from dull efforts in the Tampa Bay (G3) earlier this month in the $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3) over a mile, while a field of 12 fillies and mares will travel 1 3/16 miles on the grass in the $150,000 The Very One (G3).
Another filly-and-mare turf stakes on the card is the $150,000 Honey Fox (G3) at a mile, where Atomic Blonde looks to improve to 4-for-6 lifetime after a last-out victory in the South Beach S.