L and N Racing LLC and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Echo Zulu (Gun Runner), Eclipse champion 2-year-old filly of 2021, turned in her first recorded workout since finishing second in last year’s GI Breeders’ Cup F/M Sprint with a leisurely four-furlong work in :52.80 (11/11) at Fair Grounds Monday for trainer Steve Asmussen.
“Echo Zulu is traveling well, looking great, and ships to Kentucky this week,” said Winchell Thoroughbreds’ general manager David Fiske.
Asked if any potential races had been picked out for the filly’s return, Fiske said, “No real schedule or plan other than try to win another Eclipse Award.”
Tabbed a ‘TDN Rising Star’ after her debut win at Saratoga in 2021, Echo Zulu went on to victories in the GI Spinaway S. and GI Frizette S. before cementing her championship title with a win in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Her 2022 campaign opened well enough when she gutted out a narrow victory in the GII Fair Grounds Oaks, but she suffered the first loss of her career when fourth behind Secret Oath (Arrogate) in the GI Kentucky Oaks.
Echo Zulu’s year only got more convoluted when the 2-5 favorite was scratched by the state veterinarian behind the gate prior to the GI Acorn S. in June. She didn’t make her next start until September when cutting back to seven furlongs she romped home in the GIII Dogwood S. at Churchill Downs. The bay filly was second behind champion Goodnight Olive (Ghostzapper) in the Breeders’ Cup.
Echo Zulu, who was purchased for $300,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September sale, is a daughter of graded-winner Letgomyecho (Menifee) and a half-sister to Grade I winner Echo Town (Speightstown) and to graded winner J Boys Echo (Mineshaft).
The filly’s abbreviated sophomore campaign may have played a part in the decision to return her to the track as a 4-year-old, according to Fiske.
“There was no serious discussion to retire her last year,” Fiske said. “As you mentioned, her campaign was interrupted by the state vet in New York, so I think the feeling was that she had some unfinished business to tend to.”
Echo Zulu won from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles before turning back to sprinting in an effort to make last year’s championship weekend.
“She is an elite talent and very fast and will probably continue to sprint for the time being,” Fiske said of tentative plans for Echo Zulu’s 2023 campaign.
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