Champion Echo Zulu Returns To Winning Ways in Grade 3 Dogwood

September 24, 2022

LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Champion filly Echo Zulu broke alertly from the rail and used her tactical speed to wire the field of five 3-year-old fillies in Saturday night’s 47th running of the $274,000 Dogwood Stakes (Grade III) at Churchill Downs by a widening 5 ¼ lengths over Grade I-placed Tarabi.

Campaigned by Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen for owners L and N Racing LLC (Lee Levinson) and Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (Ron Winchell), Echo Zulu covered seven furlongs in 1:22.43 under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.

“(Echo Zulu) is such a special filly,” Asmussen said. “She’s a champion and it’s very thrilling seeing her get back to her winning ways. It’s unbelievably exciting for the entire team.”

Echo Zulu, last year’s Two-Year-Old Filly Eclipse Award-winner after a dominant 5 ¼-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) and winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) in late March, was set to run in the $500,000 Acorn (GI) on the June 11 Belmont Stakes undercard but was a late scratch on the way to the starting gate after the track veterinarian perceived lameness in her left foreleg. A subsequent nuclear scan evaluation revealed a minor strain in her left front suspensory ligament, and she went more than nine weeks without a published workout.

With five breezes under her, Echo Zulu made her first start 141 days after finishing fourth in the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI), a race in which she chased Yuugiri’s fast pace before she weakened to finish three lengths back of winner Secret Oath and one back of divisional leader Nest.

The cutback to seven furlongs wasn’t an issue for Echo Zulu, who rolled to comfortable one-turn victories in the Spinaway (GI) and Frizette (GI) during her 2021 championship campaign.

Breaking from the rail, Santana sent Echo Zulu right to the front where she clipped off fractions of :22.92 and :45.82 as Gunning, Colorful Mischief and Tarabi chased about a length behind. Leaving the turn, Echo Zulu spurted clear as Tarabi raced along the inside and quickly opened a 3 ½-length advantage with a furlong to run. She continued to widen her advantage in the final sixteenth of a mile under a hand ride for the comeback win.

“She seems to do her best running when you leave her alone,” Santana said. “She was going fast but she was doing it comfortably. She’s a very special filly. I’m so grateful she was able to get back to the winner’s circle tonight.”

The $169,500 first prize jumped Echo Zulu’s earnings to near multi-millionaire status at $1,946,375 from a record of 6-0-0 in seven starts.

Sent off as the odds-on 1-2 favorite, Echo Zulu paid $3.02, $2.24 and $2.10. Tarabi, the 5-2 second betting choice ridden by Javier Castellano, returned $2.44 and $2.14. Colorful Mischief, at 11-1 with Gerardo Corrales up, was 1 ½ lengths back of the runner-up and paid $2.78 to show. Last Leaf and Gunning completed the order of finish. Chasing Fireflies and Echo Zulu’s stablemate Wicked Halo were scratched.

Echo Zulu is a daughter of Gun Runner out of the Menifee mare Letgomyecho and was bred in Kentucky by Betz/J. Betz/Burns/CHNNHK/Magers/CoCo Equine/Ramsby.

Gun Runner also sired the winners of Saturday’s Seneca Overnight Stakes (Sixtythreecaliber) and Harrods Creek (Gunite) as well as the Grade I Cotillion (Society) and Grade I Pennsylvania Derby (Taiba).

“Gun Runner has had five stakes winners today and two Grade I wins. It’s unbelievable,” Asmussen said.

The Dogwood is named for the hardy, blooming tree that adds so much beauty to the spring landscape in Kentucky.

Churchill Downs Press Release

Photo: Echo Zulu wins the Grade 3 Dogwood (Coady Photography)

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