Horses to Watch: Follow these 3 in Memorial Day stakes

Horses to Watch: Follow these 3 in Memorial Day stakes
Photo: Tim Sudduth/Eclipse Sportswire

Upcoming entries

Echo Zulu

Although Echo Zulu was entered to compete in the $100,000 Memorial Day Sprint at Lone Star Park, Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has cross-entered his star filly in Monday’s eighth race at Churchill Downs, the Winning Colors (G3, post time 4:22 p.m. EDT), and plans call for Echo Zulu to opt for the Churchill contest.

Voted the champion juvenile filly of 2021 after rattling off blowout victories in the Spinaway (G1), Frizette (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Echo Zulu enjoyed a productive but not quite championship-caliber 2022 campaign, winning the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and Dogwood (G3) in addition to finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Echo Zulu hasn’t run since the Breeders’ Cup, but she’s been training steadily for her 2023 debut. At this point in her career, she seems best as a sprinter, so dashing six furlongs off the layoff should be right up her alley. It’s no wonder why Echo Zulu is the 4-5 morning line favorite to beat five rivals in the Winning Colors.

Eyeing Clover

It’s hard to knock anything Eyeing Clover has accomplished. He’s won three of his four starts, with his lone defeat coming when he track and pressed a destructive pace in the Gotham (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The son of Lookin At Lucky held on to finish fourth in a deceptively strong performance and later bounced back with a fine victory in the one-mile Hot Springs at Oaklawn Park.

Eying Clover will seek to keep his momentum going in Monday’s 10th race at Lone Star Park, the Texas Derby (post time 7:05 p.m. EDT). A large and competitive field has turned out to vie for the $300,000 purse, including five other stakes winners plus the undefeated allowance optional claiming winner Black Powder.

But Eyeing Clover is the 3-1 morning line favorite, and he has a lot of positives in his corner, including sharp workouts. High-percentage trainer Brad Cox has many talented 3-year-olds under his care, and Eyeing Clover can rise in the ranks of his own barn if he picks up another stakes victory in the Texas Derby.


So far, Touchuponastar has competed exclusively against Louisiana-bred rivals, so stepping into the graded stakes ranks for Monday’s 12th race at Lone Star Park, the Steve Sexton Mile (G3, post time 8:05 p.m. EDT) is a question mark.

But Touchuponastar appears up for the challenge. He’s won six straight races (including four stakes) by a combined margin of 35 1/2 lengths. All of those victories have come by at least 2 1/2 lengths, and he’s posted a trio of triple-digit Brisnet Speed ratings.

Touchuponastar’s sire, Star Guitar, was a Louisiana-bred sensation who was beaten in his four graded stakes tries, including the 2010 Steve Sexton Mile back when it was known as the Texas Mile. Given the way Touchuponastar is performing, he may be capable of succeeding where his sire faltered and picking up a graded success. He’s the 3-1 morning line favorite in the Steve Sexton Mile, if that tells you anything.

Which horses do you have your eyes on?

In this biweekly series, racing analyst J. Keeler Johnson shares promising horses from his handicapping watch list, reviewing runners who have recently caught his eye and previewing horses scheduled to run back in the near future.

Top Stories

New York Cody’s Wish returned to his winning ways...
Five weeks out from the $6 million Breeders’ Cup C...
Ace Impact never had raced 1 1/2 miles before, but...
Kentucky Derby 2023 winner Mage worked Sunday morn...
One of the entries in the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodwa...