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The Breeders' Cup, the greatest weekend in thoroughbred racing, is Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita.

It is the time when the biggest names in racing from all over the world converge on one track.

Outfits that pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for horses to teams of owners from all over the country will be there. Team ownership is big in the racing industry.

Yet, one man will stand alone in his ownership during the $4 million turf race for 3-year-olds and older.

Michael Hui of Little Rock is a success story on and off the track, but his remarkable ride with Zulu Alpha should be the talk of the day.

Hui claimed Zulu Alpha for $80,000 last year. The horse was bred at Calumet Farms but had been racing in Ireland before returning to the U.S. as a 5-year-old gelding.

Zulu Alpha surprised the bluebloods of racing by winning the Sycamore and the Kentucky Turf Cup, in which he romped to an easy win by more than 3 lengths on Sept. 9.

In 2019, he has raced eight times, with three firsts, one second and a third. That's more than $1 million in earnings this year.

Hui graduated from high school in Monticello, earned his industrial engineering degree from the University of Arkansas and started his own company, Transportation Insight, in 2000.

Saturday he and his friends will be rubbing elbows with sheiks and billionaires who all share the same hope of getting their picture made in the winner's circle.

***

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock men's basketball team received mixed news recently from the NCAA.

While football players are transferring all the over the country and gaining immediate eligibility, the NCAA decided returning Trojans sophomore Nikola Maric will have to sit out 18 games.

Maric is a 6-10 forward from Bosnia and Herzegovina who played in all 31 games last year while averaging 10.1 points per game.

He was cleared to play in the exhibition game against the University of Arkansas and scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds, then the letter came saying he would have to sit out all the nonconference schedule and five conference games.

Some guy in Bosnia and Herzegovina claimed he was Maric's agent and wanted $100,000 to release him as a client. The NCAA doesn't allow athletes to have agents.

However, it seems the guy was claiming to be Maric's agent since he was 14, which is pretty much underage in any country.

In that part of the world, kids don't play high school or college basketball. They play for club teams.

The teams provide a dorm room, food and playing gear. The total can't be valued at more than $11,000. Most places it is about half that.

Maric never signed with an agent. He was discovered by UALR assistant coach Charles Baker when he was in the country scouting players.

Baker met with Maric and his parents several times, as did an assistant coach from Syracuse, and the kid chose UALR.

Everything was going great until someone tried to make money off of Maric, who now has to sit out 18 games of his sophomore year.

At the time of this writing, UALR was unsure whether it would appeal. When Bob Denman was acting athletic director, he hired an attorney to represent the school.

Sometimes it seems one department of the NCAA isn't aware of what other departments are doing.

If you transfer to Georgia, Ohio State, Mississippi State or Michigan, you often get immediate eligibility.

Sports on 10/31/2019

Print Headline: WALLY HALL: Zulu Alpha carries rooting interest in Cup

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