Undefeated Echo Zulu (Gun Runner) looks to maintain her position at the top of her division as the headliner in Sunday's GI Frizette S. at Belmont, a “Win and You're In” for the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar next month.
The bay earned the 'TDN Rising Star' nod and a 92 Beyer Speed Figure for her impressive 5 1/2-length graduation on debut going 5 1/2 panels at Saratoga July 15. She became the first top-level scorer for her leading freshman sire next out when running the field off their hooves in the seven-furlong GI Spinaway S. at the Spa Sept. 5, winning by four lengths in front-running fashion. Echo Zulu is the clear-cut horse to beat in this event and her eight competitors are all likely to be running for second if she runs anything even close to her last two performances.
“Someone's going to have to catch her,” said David Fiske, advisor to co-owner Winchell Thoroughbreds, which also campaigned Gun Runner. “Change the track surface from Saratoga to Belmont and add another furlong, and who knows. But so far, she gives every indication that the mile shouldn't be a problem for her. As fast as she is, she should be able to hold the turns well. It should be easier for her.”
Jester Calls Nojoy (Maclean's Music) checked in second after setting the pace in her Saratoga unveiling Aug. 15. However, the bay was a force to be reckoned with next out, demolishing the field by 10 lengths Sept. 5 at the Spa. Her trainer Todd Pletcher also saddles a maiden here in A Mo Reay (Uncle Mo) (featured in Steve Sherack's Second Chances column Sept. 30), who rallied from well back to finish third behind the re-opposing Gerrymander (Into Mischief) in her career bow upstate Aug. 29. That Chad Brown-trained foe was making her second start after finishing a well-beaten second in her unveiling at this oval June 10.
“I've always thought a lot of her. She was bet first out, and I had to totally restart with her and then she showed us what we thought of her in that last race at Saratoga,” Brown said of Gerrymander. “We brought her down here and the filly worked fabulous on the main track, so we'll give her a shot to step up. She's going to like a mile, we'll see if she likes the competition. That's the difference.”
Another worth a look at a bit of price to round out the exotics is Hot Fudge (Liam's Map). A well-bet fourth first out on the grass at this venue July 11, the $235,000 OBSAPR buy was patiently handled by Linda Rice and rewarded her connections with a decisive graduation after a troubled trip when switched to the main track here just two weeks ago.