This column highlights the performances of maidens who have made no more than five starts and who either sold for more than $500,000 at public auction, have siblings that are grade/group winners, or have dams that are grade/group winners. BloodHorse research shows maiden winners in particular who meet these criteria are more likely to go on to be graded stakes winners.
Racing at Saratoga Race Course kicked off July 15 and with that exciting 2-year-old action got under way. Opening day resulted in a 5 1/2-length victory for first-time starter Echo Zulu, a 2-year-old half sister to grade 1 winner Echo Town and graded stakes winner J Boys Echo.
L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds' Echo Zulu broke in the middle of the nine-horse field and was then hustled up to second by jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. The daughter of Gun Runner pressed frontrunner Lady Scarlet, who set fractions of :22.07 and :45.68 through a half-mile, made a bid for the lead in upper stretch, and then pulled away under steady urging to win the 5 1/2-furlong maiden test in 1:04.69 on a fast track.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Echo Zulu had previously been training at Keeneland, with one timed work at Churchill Downs in June, before arriving at Saratoga. Her lone official half-mile breeze over the Oklahoma Training track was timed in :49.33 July 7.
A partnership that names Betz, J. Betz, Burns, CHNNHK, Magers, CoCo Equine, and Ramsby bred Echo Zulu, who is out of the grade 2-winning Menifee mare Letgomyecho. Winchell Thoroughbreds bought Echo Zulu for $300,000 during the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale from Betz Thoroughbreds' consignment.
On Saturday at Saratoga, another 2-year-old broke through the maiden ranks in his first start. Klaravich Stables' Portfolio Company scored a three-quarter-length win in a 1 1/16-mile maiden turf test.
Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Portfolio Company was green in his first start, racing in second but becoming difficult to hold in the first turn as Never Say Know set fractions of :25.15, :50.86, and 1:15.59 through six furlongs.
Ortiz guided Portfolio Company closer on the far turn and asked him for more as they entered the stretch. The Kitten's Joy colt kicked clear by 2 1/2 lengths, but James Aloysius rallied to close the distance. Portfolio Company completed the distance in 1:45.57 on a course labeled good.
Bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Portfolio Company is a full brother to Charming Kitten , a millionaire grade 3 winner who placed third in the 2013 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1). After trying his luck in the 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), he was switched to the grass and raced for four more years. The siblings are out of the Wild Again mare Iteration.
Wilson bought the Unified colt for $530,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training from the Wavertree Stables' consignment.
Roger McQueen dueled for the lead with Mr. Bouma in the early stages as a quarter-mile went in :22.29. He had a length lead as the half-mile went in :45.76, but kicked away in the final furlong. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. guided Roger McQueen to the wire with a hand ride to finish five lengths ahead in :57.94 on a track labeled good.
Bred by Gatewood Bell, Roger McQueen is out of the stakes-winning D'wildcat mare Promise Me a Cat. In the colt's first start, Roger McQueen finished third after brushing the gate May 22 at Churchill Downs.