Zulu Alpha looms large in Elkhorn

Saturday’s feature race at Keeneland is the Grade II, $250,000 Elkhorn Stakes. The 1 1/2-mile event takes place on the lawn and attracted 10 runners. Post time for the Elkhorn, Race 9 of 10 on the day, is 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

#10 ZULU ALPHA (8-5, morning-line favorite) goes for his third straight stakes victory in the Elkhorn. He got the better of SOGLIO on yielding ground in the W.L. McKnight two-back before fending off Melmich (who returned to run second in the Pan American when last seen) in the Mac Diarmida, both at Gulfstream. ZULU ALPHA was a facile winner of the 1 1/2-mile Sycamore over Keeneland’s turf course last fall. He and Jose Ortiz look quite imposing in this spot.

#5 CANESSAR (6-1) has a puncher’s chance with a clean trip. He was headstrong early in the Pan American last time out and faded late to fourth. This will be his third start off a layoff, so the lightly-raced six-year-old could be sitting on a lifetime-best effort. CANESSAR has two prior races at Keeneland; a third in the 2017 Sycamore and a sixth in last year’s Elkorn (albeit off a lengthy vacation). Feargal Lynch maintains the assignment.

#7 BIGGER PICTURE (9-2) was a bit unlucky in the Pan American when last seen, getting caught wide behind a slow pace. He’s raced at Keeneland three different times and hit the board in each instance. The stablemate of the top choice would do well to stay close to the pace in this one. Tyler Gaffalione keeps the call on the son of Badge of Silver that’s 11-3-3-3 at the demanding 1 1/2-mile distance.

The play: $4 exacta 10/5,7, $2 exacta 5/10 ($10)

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