By Steve Sherack
DEL MAR, CA – During an interview in these pages earlier this week, Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen described returning to Del Mar–the site of Gun Runner's 2017 GI Breeders' Cup Classic victory–with a member of his first crop favored for the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies as “dreaming.”
The dream run certainly continued for L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds' Echo Zulu (Gun Runner) Friday, capping a perfect four-for-four championship season with a powerhouse, 5 1/4-length, wire-to-wire performance in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Juju's Map (Liam's Map), winner of the GI Darley Alcibiades S. at Keeneland, was second; Tarabi (First Samurai) was third.
“A very special filly,” said Asmussen after saddling his second winner in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and eighth overall at the World Championships. “She means so much to us, and the fact that she is from the first crop of Gun Runner, everything that he did for us, it's surreal that we're back here at Del Mar for the second Breeders' Cup when his crowning moment was the Breeders' Cup [Classic] here in 2017.”
He continued, “She's just brilliant. She's faster than they are. It's as simple as that. We're just so fortunate to be around her.”
Any similarities to her sire, the 2017 Horse of the Year?
“I think what we've seen, especially today, is how she carries [her speed], what a fluid mover she is and the middle fractions where Gun Runner just seemed to move so effortlessly and horses didn't stay at the same rate he did, that's how she seems to be in her races,” Asmussen replied.
On the engine beneath Joel Rosario while drawn widest of all in post six, Echo Zulu quickly cleared the field passing the stands for the first time and it was pretty much over from there. The 4-5 favorite clicked off sensible fractions of :23.42 and :47.01, began to give them the slip rounding the far turn and was handridden to a championship-sealing performance. The final time of 1:42.24 was a tick faster than the 1:42.50 final clocking established by fellow 'Rising Star' Corniche (Quality Road) later on the card in the Juvenile.
“She is amazing,” said Rosario after riding his 14th Breeders' Cup winner. “She is fast, has so much speed and it looks like she is not going that fast. Today, she liked what she was doing up there and when I asked her, she just took off. She's just amazing.”
Tabbed as a 'Rising Star' in a flashy Saratoga unveiling going 5 1/2 furlongs, Echo Zulu made good on the promise, with dominating front-running wins with matching 90 Beyer Speed Figures in Saratoga's GI Spinaway S. going seven furlongs Sept. 5 and Belmont's one-turn mile GI Frizette S. Oct. 3, respectively. The aforementioned Tarabi was second in the Spinaway. Frizette runner-up Gerrymander (Into Mischief) returned to capture Friday's Tempted S. at Belmont.
Echo Zulu was making her two-turn debut while ridden by Rosario for the first time in the Juvenile Fillies. Ricardo Santana, Jr. piloted Echo Zulu to all three of her previous victories.
Winchell Thoroughbreds, of course, campaigned Gun Runner in partnership, and has also won Breeders' Cup races with Untapable (Distaff) and Tapizar (Dirt Mile), respectively.
“It's something you always dream about when you have a horse like Gun Runner, and first crop getting a, what will be, a champion 2-year-old filly,” Ron Winchell said. “So for us to actually own it and what we did with Gun Runner like Steve [Asmussen] was saying it just makes it that much more special.”
L and N Racing-a partnership comprised of Lee Levinson, his sons Michael and Andy, and family friend Don Nelson-had its colors carried by GISW Echo Town (Speightstown) as well as Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee.
“I'm still in shock,” Lee Levinson concluded with a laugh. “And I'm an attorney. I speak for a living, and I can't talk.”
Echo Zulu, a $300,000 KEESEP graduate, is a half-sister to the Asmussen-trained fellow 'Rising Star' and GI Runhappy H. Allen Jerkens S. winner and young Ashford Stud sire Echo Town. Standing at Three Chimneys Farm, freshman sire Gun Runner is responsible for a leading four graded stakes winners, including the Asmussen-trained GI Hopeful S. winner Gunite. Gun Runner's Pappacap also completed the exacta in the Juvenile later on the program. Echo Zulu is a half-sister to another 'Rising Star' in J Boys Echo (Mineshaft), GSW, $377,543; and Unbridled Outlaw (Unbridled's Song), GSP, $253,478. Letgomyecho's 2020 filly by American Pharoah brought $1.4 million–the highest price for a filly–from Northshore Bloodstock on behalf of Joe Allen at this year's Keeneland September Sale. Echo Zulu's dam was talented herself, winning by 5 1/2 lengths in her Calder debut as a newly turned 3-year-old and streaking to a three-for-three record in the 2005 GII Forward Gal S.
Friday, Del Mar
NETJETS BREEDERS' CUP JUVENILE FILLIES-GI, $1,760,000, Del Mar, 11-5, 2yo, f, 1 1/16m, 1:42.24, ft.
1–ECHO ZULU, 122, f, 2, by Gun Runner
1st Dam: Letgomyecho (GSW, $136,200), by Menifee
2nd Dam: Echo Echo Echo, by Eastern Echo
3rd Dam: Kashie West, by Sir Ivor
'TDN Rising Star'. ($300,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-L and N Racing
LLC & Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC; B-Betz/J. Betz/Burns/
CHNNHK/Magers/ CoCo Equine/Ramsby (KY); T-Steven M.
Asmussen; J-Joel Rosario. $1,040,000. Lifetime Record:
4-4-0-0, $1,480,000. *1/2 to Unbridled Outlaw (Unbridled's
Song), GSP, $253,478; 1/2 to J Boys Echo (Mineshaft), GSW,
$377,543; 1/2 to Echo Town (Speightstown), GISW, $410,020.
Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Juju's Map, 122, f, 2, by Liam's Map
1st Dam: Nagambie, by Flatter
2nd Dam: Charming N Lovable, by Horse Chestnut (SAf)
3rd Dam: St Lucinda, by St. Jovite
($190,000 Ylg '20 KEEJAN; $300,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP).
O-Albaugh Family Stables LLC; B-Fred W. Hertrich (KY); T-Brad Cox. $340,000.
3–Tarabi, 122, f, 2, by First Samurai
1st Dam: Indian Bay, by Indian Charlie
2nd Dam: Buy the Barrel, by E Dubai
3rd Dam: Affordable Price, by Drouilly (Fr)
($240,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-LBD Stable LLC, Manganaro
Bloodstock & David Ingordo; B-Hinkle Farms (KY); T-Cherie
Margins: 5 1/4, HF, 7 3/4. Odds: 0.80, 3.00, 9.80.
Also Ran: Hidden Connection, Sequist, Desert Dawn.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.