Echo Zulu’s Quest for Victory in the Acorn Stakes

Unwrapping Echo Zulu’s Journey in the Acorn Stakes

Can Echo Zulu Bounce Back and Cut Back?

In the highly anticipated Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park, the spotlight falls on Echo Zulu, the overwhelming 3/5 favorite. However, the race poses two significant questions: Can Echo Zulu handle a distance cutback? And can she recover from her recent defeat?

Echo Zulu entered the Kentucky Oaks in May with an impeccable record of 5 wins in 5 starts. Among those victories were three Grade 1 wins, namely the Spinaway at Saratoga, the Frizette at Belmont Park, and a commanding gate-to-wire triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. As a three-year-old, she kicked off her season with a hard-fought nose victory over Hidden Connection in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks.

Nonetheless, her Fair Grounds Oaks win hinted at potential vulnerabilities. Despite being the overwhelming 1/10 favorite, Echo Zulu struggled to hold off her rival, and her victory came by a slim margin. Five weeks later, her front-running speed finally faltered.

As the second choice at 4/1, Echo Zulu set out alongside pace-setter Yuugiri, relentlessly chasing her throughout the race. However, when jockey Joel Rosario asked for more in the stretch, Echo Zulu disappointingly had nothing left to offer. She faded to fourth place, three lengths behind winner Secret Oath and a half-length behind Desert Dawn in third.

Dave Fiske, Winchell Thoroughbred’s racing and bloodstock advisor, saw a silver lining, stating, “I thought she ran great in the Oaks to miss being second by a length and off one race for the year. I thought she did really well. As fast as she is, you’d have to figure she’s going to be more effective around one turn.”

This belief explains Echo Zulu’s inclusion in the Acorn Stakes, a one-turn mile race for three-year-old fillies. It’s worth noting that she has already excelled on dirt in a one-turn mile race, dominating her rivals by a commanding 7 ½ lengths in the Frizette last October.

Introducing Matareya: Echo Zulu’s Formidable Competition

While Echo Zulu is the clear favorite, Matareya poses a serious challenge in the Acorn Stakes. Matareya, trained by the highly accomplished Brad Cox, has been victorious in all three of her previous races, which were sprint contests. In total, she has dominated her opponents by an impressive combined margin of 16 lengths. Her most recent victory came in the Grade 2 Eight Belles, where she triumphed by 2 ¼ lengths.

Although Matareya has mainly excelled in shorter distances, she did finish second in a one-mile allowance race at Oaklawn Park on New Year’s Eve. Her only less-than-ideal result in seven races was a fifth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland last October.

Analysis of the Acorn Stakes Field

The Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park boasts a competitive field, featuring prominent fillies ready to test their mettle.

Dream Lith: Embracing the Underdog Status

Dream Lith enters the race as an intriguing long shot, listed at 15/1 on the morning line. With jockey Ramon Vazquez and trainer Robertino Diodoro in her corner, Dream Lith aims to surprise the field. While her chances of victory may seem slim, the unpredictability of horse racing ensures that surprises are always possible.

Inventing: The Dark Horse

Trained by Todd Pletcher and with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, Inventing stands at 20/1 on the morning line. Though not heavily touted among the contenders, Inventing shouldn’t be overlooked. In the realm of horse racing, upsets have occurred more times than one can count. Inventing could prove to be the dark horse, defying the odds and making her mark in the Acorn Stakes.

Divine Huntress: An Enigmatic Presence

Divine Huntress, guided by jockey Luis Saez and trained by Graham Motion, brings an air of mystery to the Acorn Stakes. With odds set at 12/1, she has the potential to shake up the finish order. Although her recent form might not be as eye-catching as some of her competitors, Divine Huntress cannot be discounted entirely. It will be fascinating to witness her role in the race and what surprises she has in store.

The Importance of Echo Zulu’s Acorn Stakes Performance

For Echo Zulu, the Acorn Stakes serves as a crucial opportunity to demonstrate her resilience and reclaim her status as a dominant force in the three-year-old filly division. Despite her unexpected defeat in the Kentucky Oaks, confidence remains high among her connections.

Trainer Steve Asmussen expressed his optimism, stating, “She made a good account of herself on some very trying circumstances in the Oaks, but I’m extremely happy about the opportunity to back her up to the one-turn mile at Belmont, where she ran a brilliant race in last year’s Frizette.”

Dave Fiske, who closely oversees Echo Zulu’s racing development, believes that her exceptional speed and innate talents have not wavered. Fiske shared his observations, stating, “She seems to be as fast as she’s always been. I watched her work last week, and her exercise rider couldn’t have been standing any taller, any straighter in the irons. He just had hands on her withers and never moved.”

Echo Zulu’s performance in the Acorn Stakes will provide valuable insights into her potential to thrive in shorter distances and recover from adversity.


As anticipation builds for the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes, all eyes are on the formidable Echo Zulu and her quest to reestablish her dominance. This one-turn mile race will test her ability to rebound from her recent loss and prove her efficacy in shorter distances. Meanwhile, the likes of Matareya, Dream Lith, Inventing, and Divine Huntress aim to upset the odds and secure their own places in horse racing history.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can Echo Zulu’s speed give her an edge in shorter distances?

Absolutely. Echo Zulu’s inherent swiftness makes her a formidable contender, particularly in one-turn mile races like the Acorn Stakes. Her previous dominant performance in the Frizette showcases her ability to excel in shorter distances, an advantage she will likely leverage in this race.

2. What makes Matareya a strong competitor in the Acorn Stakes?

Matareya’s flawless record in sprint races, combined with her recent victory in the Grade 2 Eight Belles, establishes her as a serious threat to Echo Zulu. While her transition to a mile race raises some questions, her previous second-place finish in a one-mile allowance race suggests that she has the potential to handle the distance.

3. Which underdog should we keep an eye on in the Acorn Stakes?

Dream Lith, listed at 15/1, warrants attention as a potential dark horse in the Acorn Stakes. While long shots face significant challenges, the element of surprise is always present in horse racing. With a determined jockey-trainer duo, Dream Lith could surpass expectations and make her mark on the race.

4. Can Echo Zulu’s setback in the Kentucky Oaks impact her performance in the Acorn Stakes?

Although Echo Zulu’s loss in the Kentucky Oaks may have dampened her air of invincibility, it presents an opportunity for her to bounce back and prove her resilience. Champions often learn and grow from their defeats, using them as motivation to excel. In the Acorn Stakes, Echo Zulu will aim to showcase her ability to overcome adversity and reaffirm her standing as a top-class filly.

5. How crucial is the Acorn Stakes in determining Echo Zulu’s future prospects?

The Acorn Stakes carries immense significance for Echo Zulu’s future trajectory. A convincing performance in this race could solidify her position as the leading three-year-old filly and bolster her chances in upcoming prestigious events. Alternatively, a subpar showing could raise questions about her ability to recover from defeat and excel in highly competitive fields. The Acorn Stakes will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping Echo Zulu’s racing future.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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