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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Both maiden special weights on Thursday’s Opening Day card have potential galore, with 19 well-bred freshman fillies split between the twin 5 1/2-furlong dirt sprints.
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Race 2 features Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Speedometer, who will look to improve off a third to Schuylerville (G3) contender Pretty Birdie on June 18 at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Speedometer appeared green when lugging in and out in the stretch run of her debut. A Kentucky homebred, Speedometer is by multiple champion-producing sire Tapit and is out of multiple stakes winner Speedinthruthecity.
David Fiske, racing and bloodstock advisor to owner Ron Winchell, said he was given a fair warning by Asmussen prior to Speedometer’s debut.
“Before the race, Steve told me that she was one of these Tapits that reacts to everything,” Fiske recalled. “She’s just aware of everything around her. I can only hope that she’ll benefit physically and mentally. We bought her dam as a 2-year-old and she went on to produce Nitrous who was Grade 1-placed. They’re full siblings.”
Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. will ride from post 9.
Hall of Famer Bill Mott will send out Frosted Oats for Spendthrift Farm and MyRacehorse Stable for her debut.
Bred in Florida by Sally J. Andersen, the chestnut by second-crop sire Frosted is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Peace and War. She is out of the black type-producing Smart Strike mare More Oats Please, who is a half-sister to Miss Valentine, a multiple stakes winner on the NYRA circuit.
Jockey Joel Rosario rides from post 8.
3 races later, a group of 10 2-year-old fillies will vie for their first win going 5 furlongs over the Saratoga main track.
Asmussen and Winchell will team up once more with another well-bred filly in Echo Zulu. The daughter of 2017 Horse of the Year and freshman stallion Gun Runner was a $300,000 purchase at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Echo Town, who captured the 2020 H. Allen Jerkens presented by Runhappy. Both are out of the multiple black type-producing Menifee mare Letgomyecho.
Winchell partnered with Michael Levinson of L and N Racing, the owner of Echo Town, in purchasing Echo Zulu from the sale.
“We were buying a lot of colts last year at the sale,” Fiske said. “There were a lot of opinions on her amongst the team. Steve had gone to look at her. Then we went over to the barn, looked at her, and decided to pick up a filly.”
Levinson said teaming up with Winchell just made the most sense.
“We owned Echo Town and he owned Gun Runner, so it made sense for us both to team up on the filly,” Levinson said. “It’s sentimental if nothing else and she looked the part. She’s a beautiful horse. We were at the sale, saw she was in the book. Teaming up with Ron Winchell just made sense. It’s just exciting to have the opportunity to have a 2-year-old prospect that is good enough to run at Saratoga.”
Echo Town and Echo Zulu have the common factor of being appealing horses to look at, according to Levinson.
“They had about the same shape, and were both very attractive,” Levinson said. “We hit lightning in a bottle with Echo Town for less than this one, but a Grade 1 win gave her the extra value. They’re both great looking horses, everyone involved liked her so we just had to have her.”
Santana Jr. will pilot Echo Zulu from post 7.
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Jeff Drown and Don Rachel’s Solasta, a half-sister to millionaire Mia Mischief, debuts for trainer Jeremiah Englehart.
The daughter of Goldencents was a $300,000 purchase form last year’s Fasig-Tipton Select Sale and is out of the Speightstown mare Greer Lynn.Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. rides from post 6.
Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey debuts Texian, an Emory A. Hamilton homebred by Quality Road. The bay filly is the first offspring out of the graded stakes-placed Curlin mare Tejana and directly descends from 1991 Champion Older Mare Queena.
Jockey Jose Ortiz rides from post 9.
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