Notes & Quotes From the $1 Million KY Downs Turf Cup: Zulu Alpha

(The impressive Zulu Alpha is all alone at the finish of the $1 Million KY Downs’ Turf Cup / Coady Photography & Courtesy of KY Downs)

From the KY Downs Media Team:

Mike Maker, the winningest trainer in Kentucky Downs history, experienced a frustrating first two days of the current Kentucky Downs meet, going winless with his first 19 starters and feeling unlucky with seven of his horses running second.

Saturday during the highlight day of racing during the RUNHAPPY meet at Kentucky Downs, that frustration was put aside when Zulu Alpha rolled to an authoritative 3 1/4-length victory for the trainer in the Grade 3, $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup. The score gave Maker his fourth victory in the race after Da Big Hoss won it twice for him in 2015-’16, followed by Oscar Nominated in 2017.

Trainer Mike Maker — Zulu Alpha (1st):

“Our horses have been running good, and it’s only a second victory,” he said. “But second pays well here when your horses run well in deep, competitive fields.”

Jockey Jose Ortiz — Zulu Alpha:

“I was more worried about Arklow because I know he could handle the distance,” said Ortiz, currently tied with Florent Geroux in the standings with five winning rides. “I smooched at my horse passing the three eighths, and he was there for me. So I was very confident waiting for him…When we passed the quarter pole, I went on. I didn’t feel (Arklow) closing on, I said ‘alright, let’s go.’ He exploded. He gave me a great run.”

Trainer Brad Cox — Arklow (2nd):

Brad Cox, trainer of defending champion Arklow and pacesetting Factor This, was disappointed with the result. “You prepare for months to get here, and then you run second,” he said of Arklow’s defeat.

Jockey Florent Geroux — Arklow:

Arklow’s jockey, Geroux, offered no excuses for his mount, who closed from seventh. “I had a beautiful trip, very happy. I was tracking the winner all the way.”

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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