Western Echo shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as Spectacular Bid, trainer Bud Delp said yesterday, minutes after "Echo" followed in "Bid's" hoofprints and won the Laurel Futurity.
But despite giving no illusions of greatness, Western Echo filled a 16-year gap for Delp and owners Harry and Tom Meyerhoff, and gave them their second victory in two tries in the historic stakes.
They had won the race for the first time in 1978 with Spectacular Bid.
"I'd say we're batting 1.000," Delp said.
In pre-Breeders' Cup days, Spectacular Bid sealed the 2-year-old championship with his Laurel Futurity win and subsequently won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and other stakes en route to three championships and one Horse of the Year title. That was when the Futurity was a Grade I event. Now the Breeders' Cup Juvenile is the definitive championship race, and Delp said he thinks he'll give it a shot on Nov. 5 with Western Echo.
"He won't be the favorite, but I think he now deserves a chance at running in it," Delp said after Western Echo's five-length Futurity victory. "I think he can handle the added Breeders' Cup distance [1 1/16 miles]."
When pacesetters Old Tascosa and Shimmering Prince drifted wide coming out of the final turn of yesterday's Futurity, jockey Edgar Prado dropped Western Echo in along the rail. From there to the wire, the Meyerhoff runner extended his stride in the stretch, drawing out to an easy win over Old Tascosa.
The latter horse briefly drifted into Shimmering Prince in mid-stretch, but that colt's jockey, Mario Pino, said it wasn't enough to warrant a foul claim.
"No question that horse [Old Tascosa] was getting out, but it wasn't worth a disqualification," Pino said. "My horse was starting to slow down when the other one was drawing out. My colt is still green, and he also shied a little bit and made it look worse than it was. It certainly didn't affect the outcome."
The final time for the 7 1/2 furlongs was 1 minute, 30 4/5 seconds, three-fifths of a second slower than Stormy Blues' winning Selima time on Sunday.
The Selima winner is also Breeders' Cup bound.
As with Spectacular Bid, the Meyerhoffs purchased Western Echo at the Keeneland (Ky.) Fall Yearling sale. Spectacular Bid cost $37,000, Western Echo $30,000.
Formerly, Delp had his young horses broken at the Middleburg (Va.) Training Track.
"But since the winters have gotten so bad, I now send them to Webb Carroll in the Carolinas," Delp said about the man who gave Western Echo his early schooling. Carroll breaks horses for several local trainers, including three of the recent Maryland Million winners.
Redcall goes in International
Howard County horseman C. Oliver Goldsmith has accepted an invitation from Laurel management to run his 4-year-old colt, Redcall, in Saturday's Washington D.C. International.
The horse will be ridden by Jeff Carle, the jockey who guided him to a 3 1/2 -length upset over Gilded Youth and Maryland Moon in the Sept. 17 Damascus Handicap at Pimlico.