Western Echo continues to be heard Haight win adds to resume of consistent 6-year-old

August 16, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

He never complains. He goes about his business. And yesterday, Western Echo conducted business gallantly, winning the Walter Haight Handicap at Laurel Park.

Beset by respiratory problems and body soreness for the past four years, the 6-year-old chestnut horse wore down Fireside Brass on the far turn to win the 1 1/8-mile stakes worth $53,425. The $32,055 winner's share swelled his bankroll to $571,756 for his owners, Tom and Harry Meyerhoff.

"He's got some heart," said his trainer, Grover G. "Bud" Delp. "He's handsome. He's laid back. He's just a super horse to train."

Western Echo won the Laurel Futurity at 2 and looked as if he might carry Delp through the Triple Crown series as Spectacular Bid once did. But health problems and bad luck compromised him in stakes such as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Fountain of Youth.

He never made it to the spring classics but developed into a gutsy, consistent horse who's finished in the top three in 27 of 37 races. He's won 11.

Delp credited Yvonne Wolfe, a massage therapist, with keeping Western Echo limber and loose.

"He's not going to beat any big guns," Delp said. "And he's not going to win any graded races, I don't believe. But he's going to be an honest horse, and if we keep placing him right and pick our spots, he'll keep picking up bucks."

In the Walter Haight, Western Echo, the 3-5 favorite, broke a step slowly from the No. 7 post but rushed into the clubhouse turn behind the early leader, the 5-2 Fireside Brass, a 7-year-old gelding making his 73rd star. The old campaigners raced that way around the turn and down the backstretch.

Entering the far turn, jockey Edgar Prado urged Western Echo, and he pulled alongside Fireside Brass. Around the turn Western Echo stuck his head in front and looked as if he might pull away. But Fireside Brass dug in, finishing second by one-half length.

In the winner's circle, Delp fielded the inevitable question: How long will Western Echo race?

"As long as he's sound and performing well, we'll keep running him," Delp said. "But he won't run in any claiming races."

Pub Date: 8/16/98

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