Champion Echo Zulu Euthanized Following Stall Accident

Echo Zulu | Sarah Andrew

L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds' Eclipse Award-winning 'TDN Rising Star' Echo Zulu (Gun Runner–Letgomyecho, by Menifee), was euthanized Sunday at the Chino Valley Equine Hospital in Southern California. Daily Racing Form was first to report the news. Trainer Steve Asmussen told the Form's Steve Andersen that the filly became cast in her stall and injured herself when trying to get back on her feet.

“She was beyond special. My condolences to all who loved her,” Asmussen told the Form.

David Fiske, who has served as the racing and farm manager for Winchell Thoroughbreds for 44 years, told TDN via phone on Monday what he knew about the Feb. 18 accident, his voice at times cracking with emotion.

“What I was told–since I wasn't there, I don't have firsthand knowledge–is that she got cast in her stall [Sunday] evening and broke her leg above the plate that had been inserted, and [worsened the injury] trying to get up. There was no real option other than euthanasia.”

Bred in Kentucky by Betz/J. Betz/Burns/CHNNHK/Magers/CoCo Equine/Ramsby, Echo Zulu was hammered down to Winchell Thoroughbreds for $300,000 from the Betz Thoroughbreds consignment at the 2020 Keeneland September Sale. A highly impressive debut winner at Saratoga in July 2021, Echo Zulu took the GI Spinaway S. and GI Frizette S. by open lengths and locked up the Eclipse Award with a dominating 5 1/4-length success in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar.

 

 

Kept around two turns for the first half of her sophomore season, the bay wired the GII Fair Grounds Oaks, but didn't see out the nine-furlong trip of the GI Kentucky Oaks and finished a close third. Returned to sprint trips for the rest of the season–and her career–she posted a towering victory in the GIII Dogwood S. that September and ran Goodnight Olive (Ghostzapper) to 2 1/2 lengths when runner-up in the GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.

Kept in training at four, Echo Zulu took out the GIII Winning Colors S. with a then career-best 97 Beyer Speed Figure, but she upped her game further still, romping by 7 1/4 lengths in Saratoga's GII Honorable Miss H. in July before overpowering Goodnight Olive in the GI Ballerina H. She earned 112 Beyers for both efforts. She was training towards a start in the Breeders' Cup when she suffered fractured sesamoids in an October workout, underwent surgery and had remained at the clinic since.

In the estimation of 70 voters, Echo Zulu was the top filly and mare sprinter of 2023, but Goodnight Olive secured 142 first-place votes after defending her Filly & Mare Sprint title at Santa Anita and took home the statuette for the second straight year.

Up until the stall accident, Fiske said Echo Zulu's post-surgery recovery had been progressing on an optimistic arc.

“It had been going really well,” he said. “Steve [Asmussen] and I had been talking about her on Saturday morning, how she was getting very close to being able to travel. We kind of saw on the horizon her getting to a point where she could walk onto an airplane and come back to Lexington. So she was very close.”

Fiske added that the reality of Echo Zulu's passing still hasn't sunk in for him or those directly involved in her care.

“Even though I knew about the situation [Sunday] evening, and had anticipated having to deal with these questions and text messages and whatever else today, even with the lead time, I still don't have the vocabulary to adequately express what she meant to us and what she meant to our program,” he said.

In a social media posting on the X platform, Michael Levinson, the racing manager and a partner of L & N Racing, wrote: “Extremely sad and upset about the passing of Echo Zulu, she was a true champion and will forever be in our hearts at L & N Racing. Rest in peace champ.”

Added Ron Winchell: “It's devastating and beyond sad for our team. This happened at a point when we were just starting to feel good about her recovery. She is absolutely irreplaceable.”

A half-sister to fellow 'Rising Star' Echo Town (Speightstown) and GSW J Boys Echo (Mineshaft), Echo Zulu posted a record of 9-1-0 from 11 starts and amassed earnings of $2,640,375.

–Additional reporting by T.D. Thornton

 

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