Off at odds of 6.40-1 and with six lengths to make up coming out of the backstretch on a front-running trio that included 2-5 favorite El Areeb, the Romans-trained Mineshaft colt shifted out from the rail spot and swept four wide around the turn for home in the $300,000, Grade 3 Gotham Stakes.
He opened a commanding lead in the stretch to land his first graded stakes score over 7.90-1 rival Cloud Computing, who battled in midstretch after racing third but could not match strides with the winner.
The 1 1/16-mile Gotham awards 50-20-10-5 points to the top four finishers in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings.
“This horse hasn’t been the easiest of horses, he’s been a project horse for [partner] Tammy [Fox], and she’s done a great job getting him around there and getting him to where he is today,” Romans said.
A quick tempo up front gave J Boys Echo plenty to close into under jockey Robby Albarado after El Areeb, pushed along by True Timber, went an opening quarter-mile in :23.58 and a half-mile in :47.70. Coming in with a four-race win streak that included the Grade 3 Withers Stakes, in which J Boys Echo ran third, El Areeb held the lead through three-quarters in 1:13.59 but faded in the stretch as the eventual winner blew by.
J Boys Echo finished up a mile in 1:39.57 en route to a final time of 1:46.34.
He returned $14.80, $7.30, and $2.70, Cloud Computing paid $6.50 and $3.30, and El Areeb returned $2.10.
“It’s hard for me to skip the Blue Grass,” he said. “Both races were unjustifiably downgraded to Grade 2 ... but we hope to be at one of them.”
J Boys Echo was bred in Kentucky by Betz, Blackburn, J. Betz, Ramsby, and CNHHNK. He is out of the grade 2-winning Menifee mare Letgomyecho and was a $485,000 purchase by his owners from the Betz Thoroughbreds consignment to the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale.