Echo Zulu, with Ricardo Santana Jr. riding, dominated the Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 3 and improved her career record to three wins without a defeat. (Eclipse Sportswire)
Trainer Steve Asmussen had won the Frizette Stakes three times before. My Miss Aurelia (2011), Nickname (2015), and Wicked Whisper (2019) all won the prestigious race for 2-year-old fillies at Belmont Park and subsequently went on to fashion successful racing careers, with My Miss Aurelia winning the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies en route to being voted champion 2-year-old filly.
His fourth winner in the Frizette, Echo Zulu, may well be better than all of them, based on the strength of her 7 ¼-length win over Gerrymander and seven other fillies Oct. 3. Now 3-for-3, she's never won by less than four lengths and is a two-time Grade 1 winner, her first top-level victory coming in the Sept. 5 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
Under Ricardo Santana Jr., 0.35-1 favorite Echo Zulu broke from post 6 in the Frizette over a fast Belmont track and went right to the lead, maintaining a short and easy advantage until the quarter pole in the one-turn mile race. Briefly challenged entering the stretch, the bay filly effortlessly slipped into another gear, increasing the distance between herself and her rivals, hitting the wire in a final time of 1:35.12 after running splits of :22.38, :45.98, and 1:10.40.
"I was (concerned); very much so. I watched the race from up the stretch, a long ways across to the backside – (and they went) :22 and 1, :45 and change," said Asmussen. "But the first thing Ricardo said when he came back was that he couldn't believe how relaxed she was. He said her ears were up and she was relaxed and within herself."
"It felt like I was walking, how she was doing it," said Santana. "She was really impressive for a 2-year old. She broke good and was waiting for the company. When the company got to her, she took off again."
Santana gives a victory rub. (Susie Raisher/NYRA Photo)
Echo Zulu is a daughter of 2007 Horse of the Year Gun Runner owned by L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds. Winchell Thoroughbreds purchased her for $300,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September yearling sale. She is out of the Menifee mare Letgomyecho, whose abbreviated career included a win in the 2005 Grade 2 Stonerside Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Letgomyecho has been a prodigious producer of graded stakes performers and six-figure earners, including graded stakes winners Echo Town and J Boys Echo.
With the winner's share of the Frizette’s $400,000 purse, Echo Zulu has earned $440,000, a number that will rise significantly should her form carry her to a win in the 1 1/16-mile, $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar on Nov. 5. The filly earned a spot in the race, along with traveling fees, with her win in the Frizette, which is a "Win and You're In" race.
"She obviously has a tremendous amount of ability and I think the big jump is to get to this level," said Asmussen. "The Spinaway and the Frizette – that sort of foundation and doing it multiple times gives you a tremendous amount of confidence. My worry was the Spinaway off one 5 ½-furlong race with the (lack of) seasoning. The Spinaway and Frizette have eased all those tensions, now it's just up to how fast everybody is.
"For her to go a mile at Belmont, in solid fractions at Big Sandy… I'm extremely proud of her. We're very fortunate to have an obviously special horse."