(Echo Zulu / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

From the NYRA Media Team:

L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ 2021 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Echo Zulu breezed a half-mile in 49.50 seconds Monday over Saratoga Race Course’s Oklahoma dirt training track in preparation for the Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap on July 26 at the Spa. 

“She’s a beautiful filly and really talented – she’s doing well,” said trainer Steve Asmussen. “She’s run so well at Saratoga in the past, so we’re very excited to run her here.”

The 4-year-old bay daughter of the Asmussen-trained Gun Runner is a sentimental part of the Hall of Fame conditioner’s stable. Produced from her sire’s first crop, Echo Zulu posted an undefeated juvenile season that included Grade 1 victories in the Spa’s Spinaway, the Frizette at Belmont Park, and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar. Her flawless 2021 campaign awarded her with the Eclipse Award for Champion 2-Year-Old Filly. 

“It means so much that she came from the first crop of Gun Runner and was named a Champion,” said Asmussen. “It can’t get any better than that and it was a fairy tale season for her. We’re very fortunate to still have her in training.” 

Just one day after Echo Zulu won the Spinaway, another Gun Runner progeny named Gunite burst onto the scene with a 5 3/4-length romp in the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga. Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, Gunite has gone on to earn another graded triumph in the Grade 2 Amsterdam last year and on-the-board efforts overseas this year when second in the Group 3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint in Saudi Arabia and a close third in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen in the United Arab Emirates. 

“He was the ‘yin’ to Echo Zulu’s ‘yang’ as a 2-year-old with them winning the Spinaway and Hopeful two days in a row,” said Asmussen. 

Gunite was last seen pouncing to an impressive 1 3/4-length victory in the six-furlong Aristides on June 3 at Churchill that produced a lofty 108 Beyer Speed Figure. 

Asmussen said Gunite will now set his sights on the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on July 29 at the Spa, where he will likely face the reigning Champion Male Sprinter Elite Power. 

“He’s always ran extremely competitive here,” said Asmussen. “We’re well aware who Elite Power is, but it’s not the first good horse Gunite has run against and it won’t be the last.” 

Asmussen also reported that Mike McCarty’s Gold Sweep, who finished a troubled second in the Grade 3 Sanford on Saturday, emerged well from his effort and returned to the track Wednesday. The son of Speightstown stumbled at the start of the six-furlong sprint for juveniles and showed an impressive turn of foot in the turn to rally from eighth-of-9, but came up 2 1/4 lengths shy of the victorious 46-1 longshot Yo Yo Candy. 

“He came out of it very well,” said Asmussen. “Today was his first day back to the track and we were very relieved that he was that comfortable and happy. It was an unfortunate break and it put him in a position that we weren’t planning on, but if anything, it looks like he’s not going to have any trouble going further. I did not love the outcome, but I think we led the right horse home. It’s over and we have a great sense of relief that he’s sound and went back to the track well. His attitude seems strong as ever.” 

Asmussen said he plans to run Gold Sweep again during the Saratoga meet, but will wait to decide if his next start will come in the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special on August 12 or the seven-furlong Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful on September 4. 

“I think picking out a race and letting them tell you are two different things,” Asmussen said. “We’ll let him train and tell us.” 

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G1 Belmont Stakes-winner Arcangelo breezes at Saratoga

Blue Rose Farm’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets winner Arcangelo posted his second work back since his breakout triumph in the “Test of the Champion” for conditioner Jena Antonucci. 

NYRA clockers caught the son of Arrogate covering six furlongs in 1:14.03 over the Saratoga Race Course main track Monday with Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano in the irons. 

“All is good,” said Antonucci. “It was a very straightforward work and Javier was happy. He got over the track fine and we don’t usually have to stress about that too much. He just cruises along whatever track is underneath him.” 

Arcangelo provided Antonucci with her second career graded victory when taking the Grade 3 Peter Pan in May at Belmont Park. He followed with his 1 1/2-length score in the Belmont Stakes with an expert off-the-pace ride from Castellano to make Antonucci the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown event. 

Antonucci said Arcangelo, who is possible for the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers on August 26 at the Spa, continues to train forwardly since the Belmont. 

“He’s maturing more and putting more body on,” said Antonucci. “He’s growing up from his kid-self. We’ve been keeping busy and it’s been good.” 

Out of the Tapit mare Modeling, Arcangelo’s third dam is Better Than Honour, who produced two Belmont Stakes winners in Jazil [2006] and Rags to Riches [2007]. He was purchased for $35,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

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Hiles seeks first Saratoga stakes win in $200K Birdstone

Time for Trouble will look to provide trainer Jeff Hiles with his first stakes win at Saratoga Race Course on July 27 in the $200,000 Birdstone, a 1 3/4-mile main track test for older horses. 

Hiles earned his first score in his first-ever start at Saratoga on Friday with Rocket Ship Racing’s Blue Devil, taking a nine-furlong off-the-turf allowance by 12 lengths in frontrunning fashion.

He will have his first starter versus stakes company at the Spa in 6-year-old Time for Trouble, who he co-owns with Thorndale Stable. The gelding sports a lifetime record of 25-9-3-0, with five of those wins coming over turf. Two starts back on April 20 he captured a nine-furlong allowance over the Keeneland main track that garnered a career-best 93 Beyer Speed Figure.

“He ran such a good number on the dirt over at Keeneland. He’s bred for the distance, his breeding suggests he can go all day long,” said Hiles. “The way they end up closing on the dirt versus the grass I think will benefit him.” 

By leading turf sire English Channel and out of the multiple graded stakes winning Galileo mare Starstruck, Time for Trouble has made 19 of his starts on turf. In his six dirt efforts, the chestnut has found serious success with four wins on the surface. 

A seventh-place finish was Time for Trouble’s most recent result in the Grade 3 Louisville, a 1 1/2 mile turf test on May 20 at Churchill Downs.

“We put him on the grass after he went over at Keeneland on the dirt, thinking he was better on grass,” Hiles said. “He ran good the majority of the race but came up a little short that day, so we are going to switch him back to the dirt here.” 

The Birdstone will mark the furthest that Time for Trouble has run. 

“He’s went on three different surfaces now. He’s won on the grass, dirt, and slop,” Hiles said. “He is very versatile.” 

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Uncashed possible for $150K Mahony

Following a triumphant Spa debut in Sunday’s off-the-turf Quick Call presented by Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Patricia’s Hope’s Uncashed could finally get his chance to try the grass next out when squaring off against sophomores once more in the $150,000 Mahony on August 13 going 5 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Midwest-based conditioner Larry Rivelli, Uncashed earned a career-high 96 Beyer Speed Figure from the Quick Call, where he was an easy 5 1/2-length winner over the sloppy and sealed main track under Irad Ortiz, Jr. 

The Florida-bred Uncaptured gelding arrived at the Quick Call from a string of three straight victories, including two allowance races at Hawthorne before capturing the Golden Circle on May 20 at Prairie Meadows. 

“He’s a pretty nice horse,” Rivelli said. “I tried to make it easy for him early in his career. We turned things up a little bit for him here because he was just winning so easily by so much. So, we brought him to the big leagues and he didn’t disappoint us, that’s for sure. It sure didn’t hurt that it came off the turf, but the original plan was to see if he liked it and I’m assuming he will, but you never know if would have run the exact same race. The outcome was a ‘W’ and that was what we were looking for.”

Rivelli said Uncashed would “probably not” target the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on August 26, but mentioned the Mahony as a possible landing spot. Uncashed is out of the War Chant mare Charlie B, a half-sister to turf stakes winners Lomaki and Dr. Large. 

Rivelli noted Uncashed’s pedigree as an indicator that turf could be to his liking. 

“The fact that he had War Chant at the bottom of his pedigree leads us to believe he can handle the turf,” Rivelli said. “You never know until you try these things, the breeding can suggest whatever you want. But now we know that when it rains, we’ll probably be 3-5.”

Rivelli added that he could be represented by either of graded-stakes winners Nobals or One Timer in the Grade 3, $300,000 Troy going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf on August 5.

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Saratoga Race Course Week 3 stakes probables

Wednesday, July 26

G2 Honorable Miss

Probable: Betsy Blue (Linda Rice), Dr B (Butch Reid, Jr.), Echo Zulu (Steve Asmussen), Frank’s Rockette (Bill Mott), Maryquitecontrary (Shug McGaughey)

Thursday, July 27

$150K Birdstone

Probable: Dash Attack (Kenny McPeek), Higher Quality (Naipaul Chatterpaul), Lone Rock (Robertino Diodoro), Next (William Cowans), Sea Foam (Michelle Giangiulio), The Skipper Too (Juan Alvarado), Time for Trouble (Jeff Hiles)

Friday, July 28

G2 Amsterdam

Probable: Drew’s Gold (James Chapman), General Jim (McGaughey), Gilmore (Brendan Walsh), Ryvit (Asmussen)

Possible: New York Thunder (Jorge Delgado)

Saturday, July 29

G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap

Probable: Dean Delivers (Michael Yates), Elite Power (Mott), Gun It (Rice), Gunite (Asmussen), 

Possible: Synthesis (David Jacobson)

G2 Jim Dandy presented by DK Horse

Probable: Angel of Empire (Brad Cox), Disarm (Steve Asmussen), Forte (Todd Pletcher), Hit Show (Cox)

Sunday, July 30

G2 Bowling Green

Probable: Daunt (Robert Ribaudo), Master Piece (Rick Dutrow, Jr.), Soldier Rising (Christophe Clement), Strong Quality (Mark Casse), Tawny Port (Clement), The Grey Wizard (Graham Motion), Verstappen (Walsh)