The Mike Maker trainee, with jockey Tyler Gaffalione up, saved ground from his inside post throughout but also had to hit the brakes before they went into the first turn at Gulfstream Park.
He ran behind European mare Magic Wand’s fractions of 24.06, 48.95 and 1:11.94 en route to zipping past her late, completing 1 3/16 miles in 1:51.60.
“When everything opened up, it was an easy decision to go on through,” Gaffalione told NBC.
A 7-year-old by Street Cry, Zulu Alpha is a former $80,000 claim Maker understandably called “a fabulous find.”
Since the claim, Zulu Alpha has won multiple graded stakes for owner Michael Hui, including the McKnight (G3) on Pegasus day in 2019. He likely would’ve been the one to beat Saturday in the 2020 edition of the 1½-mile McKnight, but connections opted for the shorter race with the bigger prize.
“I thought 9½ (furlongs) might be a little short, but obviously it wasn’t,” Hui said. “Tyler provided the perfect ride.”
Off at 11-1, Zulu Alpha returned $25.60 to win. Saturday marked the gelding’s second time taking the winner’s share of a seven-figure purse – he also scored Sept. 7 in the $1 million Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes (G3) at Kentucky Downs.
Behind runner-up Magic Wand, Instilled Regard ran third and Sacred Life fourth. The Aidan O’Brien-trained Magic Wand still has only three wins out of 23 starts during her globe-trotting career, though her effort Saturday added to a bankroll that already topped $4 million.
The favorite, Without Parole, was squeezed at the break and never quite recovered in his second start for the Chad Brown barn.
The Pegasus Turf, as with its dirt counterpart, was to run Saturday for the first time without competitors on race day medication such as Lasix.