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2023 Honorable Miss Handicap Preview | Echo Zulu Brings Perfect Spa Record Back To Saratoga
Echo Zulu (Coady Photography)

2023 Honorable Miss Handicap Preview | Echo Zulu Brings Perfect Spa Record Back To Saratoga

L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ multiple Grade 1-winner Echo Zulu will look to keep her perfect record at Saratoga Race Course intact in Wednesday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares.

The Honorable Miss is slated as Race 4 on Wednesday’s 10-race card. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.  

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Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the 4-year-old Gun Runner bay graduated on debut here in July 2021 and followed with a four-length score in the Spa’s Grade 1 Spinaway. She completed a perfect 4-for-4 season with Grade 1 wins in the Frizette at Belmont Park and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar en route to honors as Champion 2-Year-Old Filly.

Echo Zulu, who captured the Grade 3 Winning Colors in May at Churchill Downs in her seasonal debut, will look to parlay Wednesday’s test into a start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina Handicap, a seven-furlong sprint on August 26 that offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

“I think we’re right where we want to be with her,” Asmussen said. “Obviously, the Breeders’ Cup is the major target for her. We’re expecting two runs for her here and then the Breeders’ Cup. She’s formidable to say the least.”

Echo Zulu, who finished second to Goodnight Olive in last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in November at Keeneland, has breezed twice at Saratoga, including a half-mile effort in 49.50 over the Oklahoma training track on July 17.

Florent Geroux retains the mount from the inside post aboard Echo Zulu, who carries a field-high 123 pounds.

Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Kentucky-homebred Frank’s Rockette [post 2, Junior Alvarado, 122 pounds] boasts a record of 27-12-9-3 for purse earnings in excess of $1.4 million.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the 6-year-old Into Mischief bay finished second to Kimari in this event last year – one of three runner-up efforts in graded stakes at the Spa for Frank’s Rockette to go along with a win in the 2020 Grade 2 Prioress.

Frank’s Rockette is a perfect 2-for-2 this season, taking the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie in March at Gulfstream Park and the Roxelana in April at Churchill Downs. She has breezed back eight times at Saratoga, including a half-mile in 48.62 Wednesday over the Oklahoma training track.

Rodney Lundock’s Florida homebred Maryquitecontrary [post 3, Luca Panici, 122 pounds] made her first seven starts at Gulfstream Park for trainer Joseph Catanese, III, posting wins in the state-bred Sheer Drama as well as the open-company Rampart en route to a rallying score in January in the Grade 2 Inside Information.

The First Dude bay made her first start for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey last out with a runner-up effort to the reigning Champion Female Sprinter Goodnight Olive in the seven-furlong Grade 1 Madison at Keeneland.

“I thought she ran good that day,” McGaughey said. “Turning for home, I thought we were going to get her, but to get beat a length by a Champion – there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve only had her since March, but I watched her races in Florida – they were pretty darn good.”

Maryquitecontrary has breezed twice over the Oklahoma training track, including a half-mile effort this morning in 50 seconds flat.

“She’s training really good and breezed over this sealed track this morning and went great. She’s done really well,” McGaughey said.

Maryquitecontrary is out of the Mecke mare Mary Kate ‘n Kelly, who is a full-sister to multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Supah Blitz.

Cash is King and LC Racing’s graded-stakes winner Dr B [post 4, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 119 pounds] will turn back in distance from a distant fourth-place finish last out in the seven-furlong Grade 2 Bed o’ Roses on June 17 at Belmont Park.

Trained by Butch Reid, Jr., the 5-year-old Liam’s Map bay has proven to be a versatile runner with wins at distances ranging from six furlongs to her one-turn mile score in the Grade 3 Go for Wand in December at the Big A.

Reid, Jr. said Dr B should be sharp coming into her second career start at Saratoga after finishing second here in August in an optional-claiming event won by Goodnight Olive.

“Absolutely. It was by design, that is why I did it. We know she is plenty fit to go three quarters coming off that seven-eighths race,” Reid, Jr. said.

She worked a half-mile in 48.02 Wednesday over the Spa main track in her second breeze back since the Bed o’ Roses.

“It was good to see her really handle it well, nice and easy, well in control, just a real nice breeze,” Reid, Jr. said.

Dr B, out of the graded-stakes placed Proud Citizen mare Boleyn, is a half-sister to stakes-winners Hi Holiday and Stand Up Comic.