Echo Zulu winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Del Mar (Photo by Horsephotos)
Four starts, four unchallenged victories. Three Grade 1 wins by a combined 16 1/2 lengths. Echo Zulu has been unstoppable this season and kept her unbeaten record intact with an effortless victory in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on Friday at Del Mar.
Guided to victory by Joel Rosario on behalf of trainer Steve Asmussen, Echo Zulu left no doubt about her superiority in North America’s championship-defining race for two-year-old fillies. Breaking sharply from the outside post in a field of six, Echo Zulu dashed to the lead and never looked back. After setting controlled fractions of :23.42, :47.01, and 1:10.96, the bay filly easily kicked away from her pursuers to score by 5 1/4 lengths under a hand ride.
“She is amazing. She is fast, has so much speed and it looks like she is not going that fast,” said Rosario, who rode Echo Zulu for the first time. “Today she liked what she was doing up there (in the front) and when I asked her, she just took off. She’s just amazing.”
Juju’s Map overcame a troubled start to edge the pace-tracking Tarabi for second place, followed distantly by Hidden Connection, Sequist, and Desert Dawn. But none could keep pace with Echo Zulu, who completed the 1 1/16-mile race in a snappy 1:42.24.
Previously victorious in the Spinaway S. (G1) and Frizette S. (G1) on the New York circuit, Echo Zulu has earned $1.48 million while racing for the partnership of L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds. Compiling such a stellar resume means Echo Zulu is virtually certain to be voted champion two-year-old filly of 2021.
Just as importantly, Echo Zulu has cemented her status as the early favorite for the 2022 Kentucky Oaks (G1). The Juvenile Fillies awards Kentucky Oaks qualification points on a 20-8-4-2 basis to the top four finishers, so Echo Zulu—now with a total of 30 points to her credit—ranks clearly atop the leaderboard heading into winter.
“She's just done everything right from the first time, and for her to win in such an authoritative fashion in such an excellent time stands for a true champion,” said Asmussen.
Echo Zulu is a daughter of hot young sire Gun Runner out of the Menifee mare Letgomyecho, who has previously produced Grade 1 winner Echo Town and 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1) starter J Boys Echo. Gun Runner, like Echo Zulu, was owned in part by Winchell Thoroughbreds and conditioned by Steve Asmussen.
“The level of proud is just unbelievable, with her being in the first crop of Gun Runner, what he’s done for us,” said Asmussen. “A filly that came through Mom and Dad’s program in Laredo. She’s just brilliant. She’s faster than they are. It’s as simple as that. We’re just so fortunate to be around her.”