Beloved turf mare Lady Eli, who went undefeated in abbreviated campaigns at two and three and then overcame a near-fatal bout of laminitis to become an older star in her division the past two seasons, has been retired.
Injured when finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Del Mar in November, the only time she ever finished worse than second in 14 career starts, Lady Eli was subsequently a late scratch from the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. Owners Jay Hanley and Sol Kumin, racing as Sheep Pond Partners, debated whether to keep the six-year-old in training for another year with trainer Chad Brown or to retire her.
“As her stewards we — with Chad’s guidance at every turn — have tried to shepherd Lady Eli through her racing career with the utmost respect, compassion, and love for her as a living being first, and secondarily as a racehorse. It is in this spirit that we have ultimately chosen to retire Lady Eli from racing and allow her to gracefully — and safely — begin her career as a broodmare,” Hanley and Kumin said in a statement.
“Now that she is retired from racing, our plan is breed Lady Eli to War Front and have her remain in the very capable hands of John Sikura [at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm] and his team until the 2018 Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale.”
Lady Eli counted the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Santa Anita and the 2015 Belmont Oaks (G1) among her first five stakes wins, but contracted laminitis following the latter race after stepping on a nail while walking back to her stall from the test barn. She bravely survived after a long treatment and was back racing by August 2016, but endured her first defeat in that comeback attempt in the Ballston Spa (G2) at Saratoga.
Returning to the winner’s circle in the Flower Bowl (G1) next out, Lady Eli was narrowly defeated by Queen’s Trust in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Santa Anita. Despite losing that race again at Del Mar in November, Lady Eli is considered the favorite to win the Eclipse Award as 2017 champion turf mare next week after posting victories last season in the Gamely (G1), Diana (G1), and Ballston Spa.
A 10-time winner and lifetime earner of $2,959,800, Lady Eli is by Divine Park and out of Saint Ballado mare Sacre Coeur. She was bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm and Catesby Clay, and is a half-sister to multiple Grade 3 winner Bizzy Caroline.
Her lifetime Brisnet past performances:
Her signature victories:
2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf
2015 Belmont Oaks
2016 Flower Bowl
2017 Ballston Spa