Breeders' Cup - At The Races


Lady Eli
  • Trainer: Chad Brown
  • Likely Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jnr
  • Owner: Sheep Pond Partners
  • Age & Breeding: 5-year-old mare; Divine Park – Scare Couer
  • Season Form Figures: 2111
  • Career Highlight: Her brilliant win in the 2014 Juvenile Fillies Turf.

There is no better story at the 2017 Breeders’ Cup than Lady Eli.

She showed incredible promise as a two-year-old, when she won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in great style. She trained on from there, with an undefeated three-year-old campaign that culminated with an easy win in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks. That’s where the story took a turn. She nearly died after a battle with laminitis. Many assumed her career was over.

But her racing days resumed in August of 2016 and since then it’s been an amazing run. She’s won four times in seven races, never been worse than second, and never been beaten more than ¾ of a length. It’s also worth mentioning that even the defeats have come with excuses: a bizarre early move, a loose leader in top form, and the amazing run from Queen’s Trust in last year’s running of this race.

After she won this year’s Diana at Saratoga, it was thought she might be put away for a fall campaign. But she was doing so well at Saratoga, trainer Chad Brown elected to bring her back in the Ballston Spa, the race where she’d made her comeback in 2016. It seemed that Brown used team tactics that day (he had three runners in there) to set it up for Lady Eli. She obliged and the victory was popular with fans and bettors alike.

She’s been laid off since then, and now makes what will likely be the final start of her career. The nine furlongs of the race this year suit her better than the ten did last year. The biggest question facing her is who will line up against her? The 7-2 currently on offer could look big or small depending on who shows up from England and Ireland. She may also face real competition from within her own stable. Brown has established himself as a master of turf fillies and the likes of Grand Jete and Dacita will have claims in here at big prices.

The value will probably lie in opposing Lady Eli, but any real racing fan will applaud her and her stellar career if she manages to make it to the winners’ circle one last time at Del Mar.