Saturday, March 26, 2022

Gun Runner’s 2-year-old champion filly of 2021 Echo Zulu returned in Saturday’s Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) with a well-earned victory over Hidden Connection, digging in to hold off her foe by a nose and stamping her ticket to the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Echo Zulu, making her first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) in November, looked to have things her way after taking the lead right away on Saturday. She clicked off a half-mile in :47.68, with Turnerloose and Hidden Connection a length behind. Echo Zulu was still under a hand ride until Joel Rosario asked for her best in upper stretch. With Hidden Connection bearing down, Echo Zulu found just enough to get to the wire a nose in front in a thrilling finish.

The final time for the 1 1/16-miles was an excellent 1:42.69, less than a second off the track record.

“She’s a worthy champion, and just a blessing to be around. She barely made the race, and she barely won the race,” said winning trainer Steve Asmussen.

Echo Zulu has won all five of her starts, four of them in graded stakes, and earned $1,720,000 for L and N Racing LLC and Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Bred in Kentucky by Betz, J. Betz, Burns, CHNNHK, Magers, CoCoEquine, and Ramsby, Echo Zulu is out of Grade 2 winner Letgomyecho. Echo Zulu is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Echo Town and Grade 3 winner J Boys Echo.

Gun Runner was the champion freshman sire of 2021 and leads this year’s Second-Crop list by black type winners, graded stakes winners and progeny earnings.