11/18/2009 1:00AM

War Echo should run better now

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The names stick out on her past performances: Rachel Alexandra and Sara Louise. Of course, War Echo was no major threat to either, but when it comes to a second-level allowance on a Thursday, just having stood in the same starting gate with those fillies is hard not to notice.

A distant third behind Rachel Alexandra and Sara Louise last November in the Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs, War Echo went on to win the Grade 3 Silverbulletday in her next start 10 weeks later at Fair Grounds. After that, it was another 7 1/2 months before she raced again, and the results were disappointing: She was last of four, beaten some 24 lengths, in a Sept. 23 overnight stakes at Belmont Park.

Thursday at Churchill, War Echo returns to action as strictly the horse to beat in a $50,000 allowance going a one-turn mile on the main track. Carded as the ninth of 10 races, it's the only allowance of the day.

"She'd been training just okay going into that race at Belmont," said Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen. "But I think she's really woken up since then. She needed that race, absolutely. It's hard to get back up to that speed when you're talking about the nice fillies she'd been running against. But she's back training really well."

War Echo, a 3-year-old Tapit filly owned by the Winchell Thoroughbreds, shows a series of steady workouts at Churchill coming into this race. With Shaun Bridgmohan back to ride, she figures as a solid favorite when breaking from post 1 in a field of seven fillies and mares.

Color Me Up, a 4-year-old Aptitude filly trained by D. Wayne Lukas, would seem the primary threat, but only if she can get back to the form that took her to a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Shuvee at Belmont in May. Color Me Up was particularly dull when finishing seventh in her latest start, the Nov. 7 Chilukki at Churchill.

Other considerations are Irish Ridge and Alice's Smart, both of them last-out allowance winners over the Polytrack surface at Keeneland. Rego Rose, Street Sign, and Divine Sanction complete the field.

Three maiden special weights (races 4, 8, 10) also are on tap for Thursday, when first post is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.