09/09/2013 3:20PM

Barretts at Fairplex: Echo Zulu lays over C.B. Afflerbaugh field

Vassar Photography
Echo Zulu will run in the $50,000 C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes on Wednesday rather than the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile on Sunday.

POMONA, Calif. – Echo Zulu could have waited for a richer race later this week, with double the purse that he runs for Wednesday at the Los Angeles County Fair.

Then trainer Peter Miller figured, “Why wait?” He will start Echo Zulu in the $50,000 C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes on Wednesday rather than the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile on Sunday.

“We were looking at the Barretts, but we thought this spot would be easier,” Miller said. “It’s half the money, but we thought we would give him a break.”

Good move. Echo Zulu is the even-money favorite Wednesday against four rivals in the seven-furlong Afflerbaugh for 2-year-olds. On paper, he stands out in a field with two maidens, one maiden-claiming winner, and another whose lone victory was at Boise.

Echo Zulu was purchased in July for $55,000 after three starts that included a maiden-claiming win at Golden Gate and a runner-up finish in a Pleasanton stakes. In his first start for Miller and Rockingham Ranch, Echo Zulu finished second by a head in a starter allowance at Del Mar.

It was the best race of his career. Echo Zulu earned a 71 Beyer Speed Figure, at least 15 points higher than his Afflerbaugh rivals have earned. Furthermore, the runner-up finish was flattered by winner Jedi Mind Trick returning to win the I’m Smokin Stakes.

Since his last start, Echo Zulu has undergone the ultimate equipment change. He is now a gelding.

Sired by E Z Warrior, Echo Zulu will break from the rail under a red-hot rider. Martin Pedroza won with six of his nine mounts Sunday.

The main rival for Echo Zulu is a second-time starter who finished nowhere first out. Roundupthelute worked well prior to his Aug. 28 debut in a maiden special weight at Del Mar. He was well backed at 7-2, but broke slowly, raced greenly, and went one-paced.

With a race under his belt, a switch to dirt and a longer distance, Roundupthelute is likely to improve for trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Martin Garcia.

Betting McCann Can adds blinkers after a last-place effort at Del Mar. Sired by McCann’s Mojave, he won a $12,000 stakes first out at Boise, then was no factor in the Graduation Stakes on July 31 at Del Mar.

Mike Puype trains Betting McCann Can, and Edwin Maldonado rides. With blinkers on, the lightly raced gelding could show more speed.

Brighton Star won a $40,000 maiden-claiming race last out at Del Mar. Mr Wild Kitty finished fourth in his only start in a stakes race at Arapahoe Park.There will be a 4 p.m. Pacific first post time Wednesday for a special twilight card.