Michael Hui’s brilliant $80,000 claim Zulu Alpha, who rose to Grade I glory in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (Grade I), leads 57 older horses that were nominated to compete in the $1 million Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (GI) on May 2 at Churchill Downs.
The Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic, run at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course, annually attracts some of the nation’s top turf horses. Previous winners include last year’s Horse of the Year and Champion Turf Male Bricks and Mortar; two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan; and Eclipse Award winners Manila, English Channel, Sky Classic and Paradise Creek. Einstein (BRZ), a Grade I winner on both dirt and turf, won back-to-back renewals in 2008-09.
Zulu Alpha is one of 10 horses trainer Mike Maker nominated to the race. The 7-year-old gelding has earned $1.72 million since Hui claimed him in September 2018 at Churchill Downs. Other accomplished horses Maker nominated to the race include Bloom Racing Stable’s $1 million Belmont Derby (GI) winner Henley’s Joy and Three Diamonds Farm’s $150,000 Sycamore (GII) hero Marzo.
Trainer Chad Brown was victorious in last year’s Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic with the recently retired Bricks and Mortar. The four-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner nominated nine horses to this year’s race including OXO Equine’s $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (GII) victor Instilled Regard and Peter Brant’s 2018 Hollywood Derby (GI) winner and six-time graded stakes-placed Raging Bull (FR).
The winner of the March 21 Muniz Memorial Classic (GII) at Fair Grounds will be granted an automatic berth to the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic as well as the Arlington Million (GI).
The winner of the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic also will be granted an automatic berth to the Arlington Million.Horses nominated to the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic were made eligible by a $100 payment that was due Feb. 15. Horses not nominated can qualify through a $1,500 late fee due April 11 or a $20,000 supplemental nomination due at the time of entry on April 28. The race is limited to 14 starters with preference given to winners of graded turf stakes and, after that, highest earnings in stakes races on turf in 2019-20. A complete list of nominations is available at https://www.churchilldowns.com/horsemen/stakes/nominations/