Three starts, three blowout victories. Monster two-year-old filly Echo Zulu kept her unbeaten record intact and earned a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) when obliterating Sunday’s $400,000 Frizette S. (G1) at Belmont Park by 7 1/4 lengths.
The outcome of the one-mile test was never really in doubt. Fresh off a victory in Saratoga’s Spinaway S. (G1), Echo Zulu was quick into stride in the Frizette, setting fast fractions of :22.38, :45.98, and 1:10.40 while pursued by Gerrymander. At the top of the lane, jockey Ricardo Santana asked Echo Zulu to accelerate, and the response was impressive. The bay filly found another gear and dashed the final quarter mile in :24.72 to dominate in the snappy time of 1:35.12.
“She’s special. She broke her maiden and we never expected she was ready first time out in Saratoga,” Santana told the New York Racing Association. “How she did it (shows) she has some ability and she proved it today. She broke good and was waiting for the company. When the company got to her, she took off again. She’s really special.”
Setting such a quick pace might have tired a lesser horse, but Echo Zulu handled the fast early tempo with aplomb.
“It felt like I was walking, how she was doing it. She was really impressive for a two-year old,” remarked Santana. “I had a lot of horse. I never needed to ask her – that’s how much horse I had.”
Gerrymander was no match for the winner, but stayed on gamely to finish second by three lengths over A Mo Reay, followed by Magic Circle, Saucy Lady T, Jester Calls Nojoy, Hot Fudge, Jumeirah, and Frosty Brew.
Trained by Steve Asmussen on behalf of L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds, Echo Zulu is a daughter of hot young sire Gun Runner out of the Menifee mare Letgomyecho, who previously foaled the graded stakes winners Echo Town and J Boys Echo.
“She’s a Spinaway and a Frizette winner. That’s elite company,” Asmussen said. “I’m proud of her. Good energy through the wire. She didn’t stagger in there, and she set honest fractions.”
By virtue of winning multiple Grade 1 races, Echo Zulu has jumped to the top of Letgomyecho’s produce record, not to mention the top of the 2021-22 Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard. In addition to stamping her credentials as the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Echo Zulu earned 10 qualification points toward the 2022 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs, vaulting to the top of the leaderboard at this early stage of the qualification process.
The Kentucky Oaks is a long way off, but the Nov. 5-6 Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar is just around the corner. If Echo Zulu maintains her current level on form—and there’s no reason to think she won’t—she’ll be tough to deny in the year-end championships.
“The filly obviously has a tremendous amount of ability and I think the big jump is to get to this level,” said Asmussen. “The Spinaway and the Frizette—that sort of foundation and doing it multiple times gives you a tremendous amount of confidence.”