Echo Zulu received a proper test in her season debut Monday in the $223,250 Winning Colors (G3) at Churchill Downs while still managing to dominate her four overmatched rivals in the six-furlong dash for fillies and mares.
Pressured by second choice Fire On Time into setting fractions of :21.75 and :44.62 over the fast strip, Echo Zulu nonetheless had plenty left in reserve to separate herself from that rival in upper stretch before coasting home a 5 3/4-length winner under Florent Geroux.
“It’s great to get her season started off like this,” said Steve Asmussen, who trained the daughter of Gun Runner to a championship at age two in 2021.
Owned by L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds, Echo Zulu finished up in 1:08.99 and paid $2.82. Fire On Time finished one length clear of Last Leaf for second, while Spirit Wind and Marissa’s Lady rounded out the order of finish.
Dominant as a freshman when winning four times, including the Spinaway (G1), Frizette (G1), and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), Echo Zulu reverted to sprinting after winning the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) by a nose and running fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) early last season.
In two starts during the latter half of 2022, Echo Zulu cruised by more than five lengths in the seven-furlong Dogwood (G3) at Churchill and then finished second to division champion Goodnight Olive in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) at Keeneland.
Asmussen said the Aug. 26 Ballerina H. (G1) at Saratoga, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race for the Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita in November, would be a summertime target for Echo Zulu.
Bred in Kentucky by Betz, J. Betz, Burns, CHNNHK, Magers, CoCoEquine, and Ramsby, Echo Zulu was a $300,000 Keeneland September yearling. She’s now won seven of nine starts with earnings of more than $2.25 million.
Produced by Grade 2 winner Letgomyecho, by Menifee, Echo Zulu is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Echo Town and Grade 3 winner J Boys Echo.