Regardless of the outcome, the connections of Lady Eli are just happy she is in the race. More accurately, they are glad she is anywhere. The winner of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf not only overcame a life-threatening hoof condition, but she returned a winner at the highest level.
The emotional journey bottomed out in the summer of 2015. Jay Hanley, who co-owns Lady Eli under the Sheep Pond Partners banner, had difficulty recounting the story a year later.
"It's hard to even put into words,” he told The Blood-Horse in a story posted August 26. "It was clear that it was definitely life or death.... There was about a week there that we thought we would lose her."
In her initial start after being away from competition for a year, she experienced her first career defeat when a close second in the Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa (G2) at Saratoga Race Course August 27. Six weeks later, she was back in the winner’s circle after the Flower Bowl Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park.
Trainer Chad Brown is confident that Lady Eli’s fantastic comeback could peak with another Breeders’ Cup victory.
"There were a lot of different scenarios, some extremely scary, and the best case was we'd be back heading to the Breeders' Cup race as one of the favorites, and here we are," Brown said. "It couldn't happen to a more deserving horse."
Lady Eli is cataloged in Keeneland’s November breeding stock sale and is scheduled to sell on November 9.