A quartet of stakes for three-year-olds, highlighted by the $275,000 Dogwood (G3) at seven furlongs, were offered at Churchill Downs Saturday evening.
Unraced since a fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), champion two-year-old filly Echo Zulu got back in the win column with a sharp wire-to-wire tally in the Dogwood. The classy frontrunner has now won 6-of-7 career starts for owners L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds, and Ricardo Santana Jr. was up for Steve Asmussen on the daughter of Gun Runner, who was represented by a total of five stakes winners on Saturday.
Echo Zulu sets herself up for a Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) bid at Keeneland on Nov. 5. The Dogwood marked her first sprint start since a romping win in the Spinaway (G1) 13 months ago, and the bay lass had little difficulty making a clear lead from the starting gate with her natural speed, establishing early splits in :22.92 and :45.82 on a one-length advantage.
“She seems to do her best running when you leave her alone,” Santana said. “She was going fast but she was doing it comfortably. She’s a very special filly. I’m so grateful she was able to get back to the winner’s circle tonight.”
Echo Zulu drew off into the stretch and cruised to a 5 1/4-length decision, stopping the teletimer in 1:22.43.
“(Echo Zulu) is such a special filly,” Asmussen said. “She’s a champion and it’s very thrilling seeing her get back to her winning ways. It’s unbelievably exciting for the entire team.”
Echo Zulu left the starting gate as the 0.51-1 favorite among five fillies. Tarabi, the 2.75-1 second choice, rallied to be a clear second, and Colorful Mischief, Last Leaf, and Gunning completed the order.
A $300,000 yearling purchase, Echo Zulu was bred in Kentucky by Betz et al. She’s out of the Grade 2-winning mare Letgomyecho, a daughter of Menifee and the dam of Grade 1 winner Echo Town and Grade 3 victor J Boys Echo, and Echo Zulu earned her fifth stakes triumph, including three Grade 1s, to go along with nearly $2 million in earnings.
Harrods Creek S.
Grade 1 winner Gunite did not disappoint as the odds-on choice in the $275,000 Harrods Creek S., scoring by three lengths with Tyler Gaffalione. The Gun Runner colt was the first of two stakes winners for owner/breeder Winchell Thoroughbreds (Ron Mitchell) and Asmussen, and Gunite finished seven furlongs in 1:21.95.
Winner of the Amsterdam (G2) two back and second to Jack Christopher in the Aug. 27 Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) at Saratoga, Gunite also captured the Maxfield Overnight S. at Churchill Downs this summer, and the juvenile Grade 1 scorer has now bankrolled $814,809 from an 11-5-4-1 record.
“He’s one of my favorite horses to ride,” Gaffalione said. “His last few races he’s really proved his talent. He has a lot of grit late in his races and shows that each time he runs.”
Gunite is getting good at the right time of the season, and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) has become a viable target for the dark bay sophomore.
“He’s run extremely well his last three races,” Asmussen said. “He’s had a very good season so far for us. He’s a nice horse to have for the Winchells. Being a son of Gun Runner makes it even more special.”
Gunite tracked pacesetter Connagher in second before drawing even at the top of the stretch, and he edged away through the final furlong. Connagher, off as the 1.95-1 second choice, held second by about three lengths over Strava, who was followed by Friar Laurence, Hippodrome, Double Thunder, and Editorial Comment.
Kentucky-bred Gunite is the first stakes winner for the stakes-winning Cowboy Cal mare Simple Surprise.
Bourbon Trail S.
Home Brew prevailed after an exciting three-horse duel in the $275,000 Bourbon Trail S., angling his way to the front in deep stretch and holding by a nose over Creative Minister. War Campaign was another nose back between horses.
A back-to-back winner of the Oaklawn S. and Pegasus S. at Monmouth Park this spring, the Brad Cox-trained Home Brew rebounded from a fourth in the Aug. 6 West Virginia Derby (G3). The Gary and Mary West homebred son of Street Sense improved his overall record to 8-5-1-0, $482,545.
Santana was up on the 5.70-1 fourth choice, who closely stalked the pace from the break, and Home Brew turned the 1 3/16-mile distance in 1:56.39.
Gilded Age wound up fourth, and next came Ethereal Road, 2.73-1 second choice Warrior Johny, Big Blue Line, Maximum Impact, and 2.33-1 favorite Saint Tapit.
Seneca Overnight S.
Sixtythreecaliber got up in the final strides to spring a 11.46-1 upset in the $160,000 Seneca Overnight S., denying pacesetter Falconet by a neck. Trained by Tom Amoss and ridden by Edgar Morales, the three-year-old daughter of Gun Runner earned her first stakes win when finishing the 1 1/16-mile trip in 1:44.22.
The bay filly was making her second stakes attempt for MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farms, finishing fourth in the Indiana Oaks (G3) two starts previously, and Sixtythreecaliber sandwiched that performance with a pair of allowance wins at Horseshoe Indianapolis. Her career mark now reads 6-4-0-0, $173,282.
Falconet held second at 3.11-1 odds. Next came Skratch Kat, Turnerloose, 2.13-1 favorite Cocktail Moments, Take a Stand, and Valentina Day.
Bred in Kentucky by Lee Pokoik, Sixtythreecaliber was purchased for $250,000 as a yearling.