02/11/2010 12:00AM

War Echo's star looks like it's rising


Perhaps you have heard that Steve Asmussen is training a brightly talented 4-year-old filly at Fair Grounds. The horse is on a winning streak, and there has been talk of a graded stakes start at Oaklawn Park for her later this winter.

No, this is not Rachel Alexandra, but War Echo, whose promising recent redevelopment has been somewhat obscured by the daily drama of her world-famous stablemate. War Echo, in fact, was headed for a showdown with Rachel Alexandra (still trained then by Hal Wiggins) in the 2009 Fair Grounds Oaks, but was hurt before the matchup could transpire.

It took her time to find her stride when she returned from her injury layoff in early autumn, but War Echo has begun to look like a force once again. The next step in her ascent within the female dirt-route division comes Saturday, when War Echo is scheduled to face seven rivals in the $60,000 Pelleteri Stakes in New Orleans.

Asmussen has said that War Echo is being pointed to the Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn next month, a Grade 3 stakes with a richer purse than the Pelleteri. While betting against a short-priced favorite whose main objectives lie elsewhere can be a worthwhile gambling strategy, War Echo appears difficult to oppose in the 1 1/16-mile Pelleteri. In her most recent start, on Dec. 19 at Fair Grounds, she won the Daily Racing Form Distaff by more than three lengths, and did not work hard doing it. War Echo has since posted seven timed workouts, and has the look of a filly moving steadily forward. She possesses tactical speed and, when right, has an excellent kick. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan has ridden her in 8 of 9 starts, and has lavished War Echo with praise in the past.

Two other horses of obvious talent, Bubbler and Clear Sailing, were entered in the Pelleteri, but circumstances might not be ideal for either of them. Bubbler has won 4 of 5 starts since launching her career last September, but she returns just two weeks after gutting out a nose victory in an off-the-turf Fair Grounds stakes race, and the turnaround feels quick.

Clear Sailing returned from an 18-month layoff in late December and won a maiden sprint race by more than four lengths. Three weeks later, in a route race, she buried entry-level allowance horses by almost nine lengths. But Clear Sailing made an easy lead while facing an overmatched group in her recent romp, and she will face far stronger competition Saturday than she has yet encountered.