02/07/2009 12:00AM

War Echo tops Asmussen exacta

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NEW ORLEANS - War Echo, sister of Pyro, has laid her own claim on Fair Grounds history, winning Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Silverbulletday with a strong closing move.

War Echo, piloted by Shaun Bridgmohan, ran down fellow Steve Asmussen trainee Four Gifts in the stretch, pulling away to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

It was another 7 1/4 lengths back to the favorite, Just Jenda, who tired in the stretch after failing to switch leads.

War Echo went 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.20 and paid $11.20 to win.

Bridgmohan restrained War Echo in the early going, tucking her inside four lengths back of the early leader, War Tigress. When Four Gifts took the lead in the stretch, Bridgmohan sent War Echo, taking her outside to tackle Four Gifts.

"She's a professional, and she did everything right today," said Bridgmohan.

Asmussen, who also trained Pyro, was pleased with the running style War Echo showed Saturday.

"I was so happy to see her settle," said Asmussen. "The speed she's shown in the past has been counter-productive."

War Echo had been off since running third in the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill on Nov. 29, and Asmussen believed that a lot of the improvement came as a result of maturity as a 3-year-old.

"You see that with her size, she makes a better 3-year-old than 2-year-old," said Asmussen.

War Echo is very closely related to Pyro, who won the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby for Asmussen. Pyro and War Echo are out of the same dam, Wild Vision. Pyro was sired by Pulpit, while War Echo is by Tapit, a son of Pulpit.

"She's Pyro sister, and you want her to be in that ballpark," said Asmussen.

Four Gifts was a solid second, though she seemed to tire with the distance, and Just Jenda never really threatened.

Just Jenda's trainer, Larry Jones, said Just Jenda never changed leads in the stretch, and her jockey, Terry Thompson, thought that might have contributed to her getting tired.

Jones seemed puzzled by Just Jenda's failure to fire in the stretch.

"We'll go over her tonight and see if we find anything," said Jones.