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2022 Fair Grounds Oaks Replay & Reaction | Echo Zulu Wins Return, Kentucky Next
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2022 Fair Grounds Oaks Replay & Reaction | Echo Zulu Wins Return, Kentucky Next

The Racing Dudes team reacts to Echo Zulu winning the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) at Fair Grounds, then discuss who they like moving forward, including any potential longshots. Join our replay watch-along to get our instant LIVE reactions to this Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep race, then tell us your thoughts about the race in the Comments section!

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Year to Date Winnings


Exacta Trifecta Superfecta Daily Double
$3,445.00 $12,655.60 $12,979.40 $7,778.80
Pick 3 Pick 4 Pick 5
$22,029.40 $13,629.00 $11,376.80

The track press release:

The Champ is back, but she had to go 15 rounds to remain undefeated and the decision was a narrow one. 

In what was her first taste of competition in 4 ½ months, L and N Racing LLC and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Echo Zulu used her inside post position to establish an early advantage and had just enough in the tank late to resist a fast-charging Hidden Connection, winning the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) on Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots by a diminishing nose.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, the Gun Runner first-crop filly kept her undefeated record (five for five) intact stopping the clock in 1:42.69 for 1-1/16-miles on a fast main track. Hidden Connection just missed the money finishing 2-¼-lengths better than Florida shipper Favor in third.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, Echo Zulu dictated terms from the one-hole cruising to the front end in 23.79, 47.68, and 1:11.70. Rosario set her down inside the sixteenth pole and the champion wouldn’t be denied holding off Hidden Connection by a diminishing nose. 

“She got a little tired, but she got the job done,” Rosario said. “She’s a tremendous horse. She’s a fighter and she likes to run.”

Echo Zulu was pounded at the windows returning $2.20 as the 1-to-9 win odds-on favorite. The bay filly earned 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks and should waltz into Churchill Downs as the favorite. 

A three-time grade one winner at age two, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filles (G1) at Del Mar in November, Echo Zulu arrived at Fair Grounds in January and Asmussen was in no real rush to get her ready. She progressed forwardly in her works the next several weeks, and Asmussen was pleased enough to give her a go on Saturday.

“She barely made the race and barely won the race, right?” a coy Asmussen said. “I can’t say enough about how proud I am for her. Her 2-year-old season, with three Grade I wins, was a big ask of her. We gave her a necessary break. She came back looking well and she narrowly proved the best.”

Echo Zulu increased her earnings to $1.72 million from only five career starts. It was Asmussen’s fourth win in the Fair Grounds Oaks, and two of those fillies, Summerly in 2005 and Untapable in 2014, went on to capture the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Since 1997 eight Fair Grounds Oaks winners have returned to win the Kentucky Oaks, with Untapable being the most recent. 

“It was a very emotional win because of how much the filly means to us,” Asmussen said. “It was a beautiful win with her here at Fair Grounds. The surface got her in this position. We will head to Churchill to prepare for the next one.”

Owned by Hidden Brook Farm’s and Black Type Thoroughbred, Hidden Connection broke alertly from post six under Reylu Gutierrez tracking the favorite throughout never more than two lengths behind. At the sixteenth pole Hidden Connection started closing closer to Echo Zulu on the outside but ran out of room just before the wire.

“Tip your hat to Echo Zulu, she was coming off a layoff and I thought we had a little advantage on her,” Calhoun said. “I was hoping she’d have to deal with a little more pace pressure than what she did. I thought Reylu was forced to move a little early and wide to give her a chance to win. And she did everything but win.”

Favor, making her stakes debut for Stonestreet Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher, collected 20 points for the Kentucky Oaks. he was followed by Rachel Alexandra (G2) winner Turnerloose. Sequist and Bernabreezy rounded out the running order in the six-horse field.