Courageous Lady Eli has consecutive wins this year in the Gamely (G1), Diana (G1) and Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa (G2). The 5-year-old mare, who races for Sheep Pond Partners and is trained by Chad Brown, never has finished worse than second in 13 career outings, with 10 wins and nearly $3 million in earnings.
On Aug. 26, Lady Eli bid farewell to Saratoga when she made a stunning move down the stretch to find racing room and capture the Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa.
The performance came a little more than a month after she thrilled Saratoga fans by winning the Diana for the fifth Grade 1 victory of her career. Traveling patiently off the pace early on in that race, Lady Eli traveled wide and drove down the lane to secure the victory at the wire.
On May 27 at Santa Anita, Lady Eli fended off Goodyearforroses (IRE) to capture the $300,000 Gamely.
Bred by Runnymede Farm and Catesby Clay in Kentucky, the daughter of Divine Park is a granddaughter of Runnymede foundation mare Kazadancoa (FR), a daughter of Green Dancer purchased by Clay in France in 1982. Runnymede consigned Lady Eli to the 2013 September Sale, where she sold for $160,000 to Pete Bradley’s Bradley Thoroughbreds, agent.
“She was a very forward filly,” Runnymede CEO Brutus J. Clay III said. “When prepping her class of yearlings, she was our best walker and very well balanced. She was the alpha in the field, but pretty straightforward to work with in the barn. There is a video of a conversation between previous Runnymede manager Martin O’Dowd and myself, and she was clearly our top pick of the fillies that year. We talked about keeping her, since we bred her sire, Divine Park. That said, we thought she sold well at $160,000.”
“She was extremely athletic and had a real presence about her,” Bradley recalled. “My partner Eddie Woods had seen her first and loved her. When we both went back to look at her, I remember saying to him, 'You’re going to make me pay too much for this one, aren’t you?' ”
In 2014, Eddie Woods, agent, sold Lady Eli for $160,0000 to Jay Hanley of Sheep Pond Partners at Keeneland’s April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale. A Grade 1 winner in each of her four campaigns, Lady Eli also won the 2014 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita, 2015 Belmont Oaks Invitational and 2016 Flower Bowl, both at Belmont. In the first start of 2017, she was second in Keeneland’s Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1) on April 15.
Lady Eli’s comeback from a brave battle with laminitis and her tremendous success have thrilled racing fans, including Bradley.
“While I make a living as a bloodstock agent by buying, selling and trading horses, the main reason I do what I do is to try to find exceptional equine athletes,” he said. “My job is to be a talent scout. So for me, Lady Eli is the fruition of my passion for this sport. She is one of the best of her generation.”
Lady Eli is to be offered as a broodmare prospect at this year's Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.