Letgomyecho Stays Perfect in Forward Gal

The undefeated Maddalena was odds-on to win Saturday's $150,000 Stonerside Forward Gal (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies, but it was Letgomyecho who stretched her perfect record to three in a row in her stakes debut for trainer George Arnold.

Taken off a hot pace by rider Javier Castellano, Letgomyecho was roused on the turn for home, tackled the leaders late, and sped home by a half-length over Little Money Down and Jorge Chavez. The time was 1:23 1/5 on a fast track for the seven-furlong Forward Gal.

"The race set up pretty well for us," said Arnold. "That's the way we wanted it to happen and sometimes things work out for the best. Javier Castellano rode her great but I really believe this race was a tribute to her ability."

"I let the speed go and when I asked her she finished the way I wanted," Castellano said. "She's a really good one. We wanted to see if she would run against this kind of competition and she did everything we asked. She's a real professional."

Hot Storm, Jerry Bailey aboard, finished third, 1 3/4 lengths farther back, and Bird Harbor arrived fourth, a neck in front of Maddalena.

The speedy Maddalena, who had won three in a row to begin her career for trainer Todd Pletcher and was coming off a 7 1/4-length triumph in Gulfstream's Old Hat (gr. III) Feb. 5, wilted in the stretch as the 3-5 choice.

Off a step slowly from the rail post position and hustled to the front by John Velazquez through fractions of :21 4/5 and :44 2/5, Maddalena was under pressure from Hot Storm and Bird Harbor every step of the way. Maddalena held the lead in upper stretch but when asked for more, she was overcome following six furlongs in 1:09 4/5.

"I think the post position hurt us," Pletcher said. "We were kind of stuck down on the inside and with all that rain yesterday the track is not very fast."

Letgomyecho swung out for the stretch run, gaining a slim lead with a sixteenth left to go and had to battle to hold off the determined Little Money Down, who had angled to the rail for the drive.

John Ward, conditioner of Little Money Down, said he was encouraged, adding, "She came up a little bit short but she lost to a nice horse. The best part is she told me she can handle going long, and that's what her next race will be."

Letgomyecho most recently won a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park as the even-money choice by four lengths on Feb. 6. She broke her maiden on Jan. 1 at Calder Race Course by 5 1/2 lengths. Owned by Dixiana Farm, she has banked $121,200.

"We think this horse is dying to go two turns," Arnold said, adding that the Ashland (gr. I) at Keeneland April 9 would be next with the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) possibly after that.

"The timing is great and that gives her about five weeks between races."

Bred in Kentucky by Hopewell Investments LLC, Letgomyecho, a dark bay daughter of Menifee-Echo Echo Echo (Eastern Echo) was a $155,000 Keeneland sale in April.

The second choice in a field of seven, she paid $11.40, $5.80 and $6.40. Little Money Down returned $6.80 and $7.40 while completing a $62.40 exacta. Hot Storm was $7.40 to show.

Dixie Gemstone and Leona's Knight trailed.

(Chart, Equibase)