L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds' Echo Zulu (Gun Runner) became her freshman sire's first Grade I winner, third graded winner overall–and his second of the upstate meet–with a wire-to-wire victory in the GI Spinaway S. at Saratoga Sunday.
“I can't measure how much I wanted to have Gun Runner's first Grade I winner,” admitted Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who also conditioned the 2017 Horse of the Year. “Everything he did for the barn, he's obviously a tremendous sire and somebody had to be first, but I'm glad it was us.”
Sent off the 3-5 favorite, Echo Zulu was off half-a-step slowly and rushed up to take the early. She was in front while pressed by longshot Benbang (Shanghai Bobby) through a quarter in :22.07 and a half in :44.73. She put that foe away nearing the stretch and quickly opened up on the field before sailing under the wire an unchallenged four-length winner.
“At the top of the stretch, you're looking at :44 for the half and thinking how does she stay up? But she found another gear and finished up in 1:22 on a pretty slow track today,” said co-owner Michael Levinson, whose L and N Racing also campaigned the winner's half-brother Echo Town (Speightstown), who captured last year's GI H. Allen Jerkens S. “This was absolutely incredible. To win back-to-back Grade I races with two horses from the same family is incredible.”
Echo Zulu was tabbed a 'TDN Rising Star' following a dominating 5 1/2-length debut victory in her 5 1/2-furlong unveiling at Saratoga July 15.
“It was a huge jump. We prepared her like a first-time starter at Saratoga to run,” Asmussen, winning his fourth Grade I of the Saratoga meet, said. “She responded and ran well and that was a long time ago going five and a half against different horses. To jump from maidens to a Grade I off one run in a race with everything going your way is not easy. It takes a special horse to do it and maybe that's what she is. She is all class and training her, she'll go as easy as you want her to go and picks it up when asked. She's not been in a hurry for a filly that's as fast as she is.”
Asked if the Oct. 3 GI Frizette S., a Win and You're In race for the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile, could be next for Echo Zulu, Asmussen said, “That looked like it would translate to the Frizette pretty good to me and that would hopefully be the bridge [to the Breeders' Cup]. To suggest what she can't do right now would probably be a mistake.”
Gun Runner was represented earlier in the Saratoga meet by GII Adirondack S. winner Wicked Halo and by GII Saratoga Special runner-up Gunite. His Pappacap, winner of the GII Best Pal S., goes postward in Monday's GI Runhappy Del Mar Futurity.
Echo Zulu is the second Saratoga Grade I winner for her dam Letgomyecho, who also produced GI H. Allen Jerkens S. winner Echo Town (Speigthstown). Echo Zulu is also a half-sister to 2017 GIII Gotham S. winner J Boys Echo (Mineshaft).
Winner of the 2005 GII Stonerside Forward Gal S., Letgomyecho is also the dam of Distorted Echo (Distorted Humor), who produced multiple stakes placed Deputy's Echo (Badge of Silver), and Repeat (Bernardini), who produced graded placed Shooters Shoot (Competitive Edge).
Purchased for $135,000 at the 2011 Keeneland November sale, Letgomyecho has a yearling filly by American Pharoah.
SPINAWAY S.-GI, $300,000, Saratoga, 9-5, 2yo, f, 7f, 1:22.51, gd.
1–ECHO ZULU, 120, 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
1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN, 1ST GRADE I
WIN. '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
Asmussen; J-Ricardo Santana, Jr. $165,000. Lifetime
Record: 2-2-0-0, $220,000. *1/2 to Unbridled Outlaw
(Unbridled's Song), GSP, $253,478; J Boys Echo (Mineshaft),
GSW, $377,543; and Echo Town (Speightstown), GISW,
$410,020. Click for eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk
Nick Rating A+.
2–Tarabi, 120, 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
3–Saucy Lady T, 120, f, 2, by Tonalist
1st Dam: Fila Primera (SW & GSP, $138,455), by War Front
2nd Dam: Southern Strike, by Smart Strike
3rd Dam: Promenade Colony, by Pleasant Colony
($5,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-James Chapman & Stuart
Tsujimoto; B-R. S. Evans (KY); T-James K. Chapman. $36,000.
Margins: 4, 3 3/4, 4 3/4. Odds: 0.65, 19.00, 28.75.
Also Ran: Sequist, Dream Lith, Benbang, Sue Ellen Mishkin, Girl With a Dream, Pretty Birdie. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.