Last seen finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), champion Echo Zulu will return to action in Monday’s $225,000 Winning Colors (G3). The Churchill Downs feature is her comeback spot of choice after connections also cross-entered to the Memorial Day Sprint at Lone Star Park.
Echo Zulu enjoys a colossal class edge over her five opponents in the Winning Colors. The Steve Asmussen trainee was an unbeaten champion two-year-old who dominated the 2021 Spinaway (G1), Frizette (G1), and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). After a gutsy verdict in the 2022 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), she appeared to have distance limitations, a suspicion confirmed by her fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Reverting to one turn in the Sept. 24 Dogwood (G3) at Churchill, Echo Zulu was back in business with a 5 1/4-length romp. The Gun Runner filly tackled older rivals for the first time in the Filly & Mare Sprint at Keeneland, where she chased out wide from post 12 and beat all except divisional champion Goodnight Olive.
Echo Zulu reappears over six furlongs, her shortest dash since her 5 1/2-furlong debut at Saratoga, and picks up a new rider in Florent Geroux. Her rivals hope that they can catch her ring-rusty.
Most of them will try to leverage recency against her. Grade 2-placed Fire on Time, drawn just outside of Echo Zulu in post 6, comes off a six-length romp at this track May 12. Trained by Dale Romans, the Albaugh Family Stables runner sports a 4-for-5 local mark.
Another daughter of Not This Time, five-time stakes winner Last Leaf, was only fourth to Echo Zulu in the Dogwood. But the Eddie Kenneally pupil was most recently a good second to Frank’s Rockette in the course-and-distance Roxelana S.
Gulfstream Park shipper Spirit Wind, who was best of the rest behind Ce Ce in last summer’s Princess Rooney (G2), returned with a hard-fought allowance tally on March 31. The Ralph Nicks filly promises to flash speed on the rail.
Aside from Echo Zulu, the other entrant making her seasonal debut is Marissa’s Lady for William Morey. A four-time stakes victress by Violence, she has not raced since a one-paced fifth in the July 16 Blue Sparkler S. on the Monmouth Park turf. But Marissa’s Lady has run well at Churchill before, taking her first two starts including the Fern Creek S. Rounding out the field is another Gun Runner, recent Churchill allowance runner-up Scarlet Stripe.