Sheep Pond Partners’ Lady Eli overcame prematurely busting through the starting gate, a discombobulation perhaps leading to a bobbled start, but rallied to out-game front-running Quidura for a head victory in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Diana Stakes. That July 22 performance in the $ 500,000 race catapulted Lady Eli to honors as the Fasig-Tipton Turf Horse of the Month for July on the all-things grass-racing website TurfTalk360.com.
The Turf Horse of the Month award recognizes outstanding grass performers and is sponsored by the internationally prominent Fasig-Tipton sales company.
Fasig-Tipton on Sept. 10 will stage its first Turf Showcase auction consisting of selected yearlings suited for grass racing at its Newtown Paddocks in Lexington, Ky. Among the 171 yearlings catalogued for The Turf Showcase, Presented by Woodbine Racetrack, is a colt by the Airdrie Stud stallion Divine Park, the sire of Lady Eli.
Chad Brown, Lady Eli’s trainer, called the Diana “one of her greatest races to date. Maybe her best.
“Giving eight pounds to the horse she ran down late in the stretch after breaking through the gate, going a little wide, she just overcame everything,” he said after the turf stakes. “Today she proved she’s one of the all-time greats. It was her determination. I’m proud she didn’t hang there in the end. She’s always drove past another horse as long as she can see them. She might have been undefeated; three times she’s gotten beat late in the stretch from behind.”
The 5-year-old Lady Eli has made a career of overcoming complications, most notably rebounding from laminitis, the painful and often lethal foot disease, and the ensuing 13-month layoff that knocked her out of half of her 3- and 4-year-old seasons. But she picked up where she left off to become a Grade 1 winner at ages 2 (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita), 3 (Belmont Oaks Invitational), 4 (Belmont’s Flower Bowl) and 5 (Santa Anita’s Gamely and now at Saratoga).
Overall, Lady Eli has won 9 of 12 starts, her three seconds coming by three-quarters of a length in her comeback race after the laminitis, a nose (last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf) and a head (Keeneland‘s Jenny Wiley in her first start this year). She has earned $ 2,719,800 while ridden in every race by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Lady Eli was bred by historic Runnymede Farm and Catesby Clay and is out of Sacre Coeur, a daughter of the deceased Saint Ballado.
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