J Boys Echo didn’t get the best of trips when third in last month’s Withers (G3), but got the right one in Saturday’s $300,000 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct, sweeping to the lead with a four-wide bid turning for home and drawing off to win under Robby Albarado.
Hung wide from post 10 in the Withers, J Boys Echo broke from post 1 in the Gotham, ensuring a ground-saving run through most of the 1 1/16-mile heat. Up front, 2-5 favorite El Areeb, who had captured the Jerome (G3) and Withers (G3) by wide margins, was hounded a great deal of the way by True Timber through splits of :23.58, :47.70 and 1:13.59.
Passing the quarter pole, True Timber had backed out and El Areeb was already under a strong drive. Having bided his time in fourth, J Boys Echo had a fresh set of legs and comfortably blew past both the favorite and Cloud Computing, who entered off a debut win on February 11. J Boys Echo won by 3 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:46.34 on a fast track.
Owned by Albaugh Family Stable and trained by Dale Romans, J Boys Echo returned $14.80 as the 6-1 second choice in a field of seven. Cloud Computing was a clear second, while El Areeb finished 11 lengths behind the winner in third, a half-length ahead of Action Everyday.
As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, J Boys Echo earned 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, pushing his total to 53. Cloud Computing earned 20, El Areeb earned 10, pushing his total to 30, and Action Everyday earned 5 points.
“Last time he drew the 10-hole here, and everyone was bunched up and not spreading out,” Romans said. “He was wide all the way around and still ran a nice starter race. We took it as the first step and he came back today and was very impressive.
“This horse hasn’t been the easiest of horses,” he noted. “He’s been a project for Tammy [Fox, assistant to Romans and J Boys Echo’s exercise rider], and she’s done a great job getting him around and getting us here.”
This was the first stakes win for J Boys Echo, who broke his maiden at Keeneland second out at in October and then finished up his juvenile campaign with a distant fourth to Gunnevera in the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3). Following his season debut third in the Withers and this, his record now stands at 5-2-1-1, $299,600.
Romans said he was leaning toward running J Boys Echo in the April 8 Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland rather than in the Wood Memorial (G2) on the same day.
By Mineshaft and out of the Grade 2 winner Letgomyecho, by Menifee, J Boys Echo is a half-brother to the Grade 3-placed Unbridled Outlaw. The Kentucky-bred was a $485,000 Keeneland September yearling.