Daily Racing Form – Written by David Grening
From the first day he breezed her on turf, trainer Chad Brown thought Lady Eli was something special.
“I thought she was the best 2-year-old grass filly I’ve ever trained off that breeze,” Brown said. “And it’s proven to be true.”
Lady Eli demonstrated how special a filly she is for a third time this year Friday, galloping to a 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita.
Sunset Glow, who set the pace, finished second by 2 1/4 lengths over Osaila. She was followed by Prize Exhibit, Sivoliere, Partisan Politics, Tammy the Torpedo, Qualify, Rainha Da Bateria, Quality Rocks, Conquest Harlanate, Isabella Sings, and Nicky’s Brown Miss.
The start of the race was delayed a few minutes due to the late scratch of Lady Zuzu, who kicked the side of the gate with her rear right leg and suffered a laceration. Lady Zuzu was reported to be fine back at the barn.
Lady Eli’s final time of 1:33.41 for the mile was not only the fastest Juvenile Fillies Turf run, but it was 1.38 seconds faster than Hootenanny ran the Juvenile Turf earlier on the card.
“She’s ahead of her time, this horse. She trained like a 3-year-old all summer, like a horse that’s run 20 times already. She has that much talent,” Brown said. “Just so proud of her that she got to show everyone on a big stage.”
The win capped a perfect 3-for-3 campaign for Lady Eli, a daughter of Divine Park who was purchased $160,000 at the Keeneland April 2-year-old auction.
Lady Eli gave Brown his third Breeders’ Cup victory and second in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, a race he won in 2008 with Maram. The win was the first Breeders’ Cup victory for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., as well as for the ownership group of Jay Henley and Sol Kumin, who races under the name Sheep Pond Partners. Sheep Pond is the name of the road Kumin and his wife, Elizabeth, live on in Nantucket. Henley, a homebuilder, built the house for the Kumins.
Lady Eli is named for Kumin’s wife.
Lady Eli, 6-1 on the morning line, opened up the 7-5 favorite and ultimately went off the 2-1 favorite. She returned $6.80 to win.
The race was basically won entering the first turn. Ortiz had Lady Eli in fourth position, sitting behind Sunset Glow, Isabella Sings, and Nicky’s Brown Miss.
Entering the far turn, Quality Rocks came to the outside of Lady Eli, and for a brief moment, it appeared as though Lady Eli could get boxed in.
But turning for home, Sunset Glow drifted off the rail, creating a huge opening, and Ortiz shot Lady Eli on through. She exploded home in a final quarter of 22.89 seconds.
“I thought he was going to stay on the rail, so I had to wait,” Ortiz said. “But I see [Sunset Glow] drifted out a little bit, and it was a little early for me because I want to wait a little more, but I have to go for it.”
For Ortiz, this was his second Breeders’ Cup and just his fifth mount in the series.
Lady Eli was one of four horses Brown ran in the race. His others were Sivoliere (fifth), Partisan Politics (sixth) and Tammy the Torpedo (seventh).
Sivoliere was ridden by Gary Stevens, his first mount back since having knee-replacement surgery.
“I’m good, rode a good race and gave myself a chance at the head of the lane,” Stevens said. “I thought she was going to really quicken up for me. I was sitting behind the winner, and she opened up two on me, and my filly accelerated a little bit. I’m not disappointed in her. I was just a little surprised. I thought as much horse as I had, being a filly that’s been racing in France, she would really quicken with me.”
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