Sunday, September 05, 2021

Gun Runner, already the sire of a pair of First-Crop Grade 2 winners, added his first Grade 1 winner on Sunday when the undefeated filly Echo Zulu rolled to a four-length win in the $300,000 Spinaway S. (G1) at Saratoga.

Well-backed off a sparkling July 15 debut that she won by 5 1/2-lengths, Echo Zulu came away from the gate to take the lead in the matter of a few strides. The bay filly was pressed by Benbang through a swift half-mile in :44.73, then put her away at the top of the stretch. With no serious threats in her sights, Echo Zulu cruised through the final furlong to stop the timer in a very good 1:22.51 for the seven furlongs on a “good” main track.

I can’t measure how much I wanted to have Gun Runner’s first Grade I winner,” said her 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.”

Owned by L and N Racing LLC and Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC, Echo Zulu has won both her starts and earned $220,000. The filly is out of Forward Gal S. (G2) winner Letgomyecho, who in turn is the dam of Allen Jerkens S. (G1) winner Echo Town and Gotham S. (G3) winner J Boys Echo.

Echo Zulu was bred by Betz/J. Betz/Burns/CHNNHK/Magers/CoCo Equine/Ramsby and sold for $300,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling sale.

Asked if the Oct. 3 Frizette S. (G1) 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.”

Echo Zulu’s victory made Gun Runner the first Freshman Sire of 2021 to surpass the $1 million mark in progeny earnings.