Sheep Pond Partners’ Lady Eli has now won her last three races in a row, two years after winning her battle against laminitis. On Saturday, the 5-year-old daughter of Divine Park captured the G2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga by 1 1/2 lengths, beating Dickinson to the wire in a final time of 1:39.70 for 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf. Ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., the mare gave trainer Chad Brown his third victory on the Travers Day card.
“She [Lady Eli] is amazing,” Brown said after the race. “I’m so glad we decided to bring her here today, for a lot of reasons. We got a good race into her again and most important, all the fans at Saratoga, and beyond got to see her race here one more time; just a great day.”
Lady Eli laid in fourth of the five-horse field as Dickinson and Antonoe led through early fractions of :24.34 and :48.92. On Leave made a middle move to take up that challenge on the front-running Dickinson, but Ortiz never flinched aboard Lady Eli, keeping a strong hold on the mare all down the backstretch and through the far turn.
Turning for home, Lady Eli needed room to run and had to bull her way between rivals to make room. She burst through the gap willingly, drawing away to win by 1 1/2 lengths on the wire. Dickinson held on to finish second, while Roca Rojo and Antonoe filled out the superfecta.
“She’s my favorite,” Ortiz said, kissing the mare when he pulled her up. “I have been on her [for] her whole life. I’m just excited for her and I’m excited that we won another race.”
Bred in Kentucky by Catesby W. Clay and Runnymede Farm, Lady Eli was a $ 160,000 purchase at the Keeneland April 2-year-old in training sale. She won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2014, and was undefeated through the 2015 Belmont Oaks. She contracted laminitis and it was a year before she returned to the races, but return she did and went on the win the G1 Flower Bowl and finish second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Lady Eli has now won her last three races in a row, bolstering her record to 10 wins and three seconds from 13 starts, for earnings of nearly $ 3 million.
“I have so much confidence in her,” Brown continued. ” You never really know until they cross the wire, but when she tipped out I know how devastating her turn-of-foot is, and I felt confident she would get it done. She really is a horse of a lifetime. Everything she’s overcome; just her natural abilities are remarkable, and she’s just a rare, rare horse.”
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