Echo Zulu will attempt to parlay a sensational debut victory into a graded stakes win as she takes on a field of nine 2-year-old fillies assembled for the 130th running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Spinaway Stakes going seven furlongs at Saratoga Race Course on Sunday, September 5.
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Echo Zulu was highly impressive on debut, romping to a 5 ½-length maiden score on July 15 at Saratoga, where she recorded a 92 Beyer Speed Figure - the highest recorded figure for a 2-year-old filly this year.
||Girl With a Dream
||Ricardo Santana, Jr.
||Saucy Lady T
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
||Sue Ellen Mishkin
"The idea was always that she could be a Saratoga 2-year-old," said Winchell Thoroughbreds racing and bloodstock advisor David Fiske. "She showed some early speed, but for her to win the way she did and to get the number she got, I don't think anyone was expecting that."
Echo Zulu, bought for $300,000 out of the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, is out of the graded stakes winning Menifee mare Letgomyecho. She is a half-sister to L and N Racing's Echo Town, the winner of last year's Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial.
A victory would give her leading freshman stallion Gun Runner his first Grade 1 win as a sire. He has already sired two graded stakes winners in his first crop, including Grade 2 Adironack winner Wicked Halo who also is owned by Winchell and trained by Asmussen.
"She came out of Steve's parents' operation in Laredo pretty highly touted," Fiske said. "We have some pretty big expectations for her. We were grateful that [co-owner Mike] Levinson let us partner up with her. We bought a few other yearlings last year and since he had Echo Town, he asked about her. We looked at her and got her as well."
Jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. will retain the mount from post 3.
While Echo Zulu attempts to rise to the occasion, Pretty Birdie will seek a second graded stakes triumph for trainer Norm Casse.
The Marylou Whitney Stables-owned daughter of Bird Song has led at every point of call in two starts. After a runaway debut victory on June 18 at Churchill Downs, she captured the Grade 3 Schuylerville on July 15 at Saratoga by two lengths.
Jockey Luis Saez will return aboard Pretty Birdie from post 5.
An impressive 2 1/4-length score on debut at 36-1 odds has given trainer Robertino Diodoro confidence that Dream Lith can step up to Grade 1 company.
The dark bay or brown daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, owned by Cypress Creek Equine and Arnold Bennewith, broke her maiden on August 8 going 6 1/2 furlongs at the Spa. She tracked a close fourth in the clear down the backstretch before making her move in between horses in upper stretch and taking command at the eighth pole.
Despite always having high hopes in Dream Lith, Diodoro said the first-out success was a bit of a surprise.
"We're really excited about her," Diodoro said. "She wasn't supposed to do what she did that day, not because of ability, we knew she had that. We thought it would take two turns for her to break her maiden. I think even the extra furlong going into the Spinaway is going to help her even more. She's awesome. Sometimes, you see a maiden win first out. Maybe she was more ready than the other horses, but this filly is the real deal."
Diodoro added that Dream Lith bounced out of her maiden score exceptionally well.
"Some horses that break their maiden first out, you have to ease off. But she just came back like a pro," Diodoro said. "She's giving us all the signs that she's the real deal."
Jockey David Cohen retains the mount from post 7.
Tarabi is also seeking a breakthrough victory following an impressive debut maiden win on August 7 at Ellis Park.
In her six-furlong maiden score, the chestnut daughter of First Samurai maintained her inside position down the backstretch, inched her way to the front under no urging and was never in doubt in the stretch, winning by 5 ½ lengths.
Owned by LBD Stable, Manganaro Bloodstock and David Ingordo, Tarabi is out of the Indian Charlie mare Indian Bay, making her a full-sister to Shivaji, a Group 3 winner in Japan.
"As an early 2-year-old she was very forward and never had a bad day on the track," said trainer Cherie DeVaux. "She's very straightforward and mature mentally. She showed a lot of talent in the morning and the plan was always to run her at Ellis and if she ran to our expectations, to give her a shot in the Spinaway."
Tarabi has breezed twice at Saratoga following her maiden victory.
"She's adjusted really well," DeVaux said. "She continues to train well. She's grown, matured and progressed physically. She's had one easy work over the track and one where we asked a bit more of her and she handled it really well and got over the track really well. She's come out of it in good shape."
Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, a two-time Spinaway victor, will ride Tarabi from post 1.
Completing the field are Girl With a Dream [post 2, Florent Geroux], Benbang [post 4, Manny Franco], Saucy Lady T [post 6, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], Sequist [post 8, Junior Alvarado], Sue Ellen Mishkin [post 9, Jose Ortiz],
The prestigious race is named in honor of George Lorillard's talented chestnut who won seven of her nine starts, including stakes wins at the defunct Jerome Park and Sheepshead Bay Park. Successful in her career as a broodmare, Spinaway was the granddam of Tanya, who won her grandmother's namesake race in 1904 before defeating colts in the Belmont Stakes the following year. Other prominent descendants of Spinaway include multiple champion producing stallion Giant's Causeway, prolific broodmare Hasili and European champion Gleneagles.
The historic event has been won by subsequent Champion 2-Year-Old Females Before Dawn , Family Style , Meadow Star , Flanders , Golden Attraction , Countess Diana  and Vequist . In its earlier years, the Spinaway was won by Hall of Fame fillies Miss Woodford , Maskette , Top Flight , Cicada , Affectionately , La Prevoyante  and Ruffian .
The Spinaway is slated as Race 11 on Sunday's 12-race program, which offers a first post of 12:35 p.m. Eastern.
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