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Lady Eli Centerpiece of Flower Bowl

By Evan Hammonds

The racing office at the New York Racing Association found out how many trainers want to run against Lady Eli—only five.

Sheep Pond Partners’ star filly has been entered to make the second start of her her comeback in Belmont Park’s $500,000 Flower Bowl Stakes (gr. IT) and will face only five fillies and mares going 1 1/4 miles.

Trainer Chad Brown will also saddle Martin Schwartz’ game Sea Calisi against Lady Eli, giving him a third of the field. The others taking her on are Strike Charmer(trained by Mark Hennig), who delivered Lady Eli her first defeat in Saratoga’s Ballston Spa Stakes (gr. IIT); multiple grade II winnerSentiero Italia (Kiaran McLaughlin); French import Ame Bleue (Andre Fabre); and grade III winner Itsonlyactingdad (Todd Pletcher).

Lady Eli, a 4-year-old filly by Divine Park, was a superstar in the making last summer with a scintillating score in the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (gr. IT), but stepped on a nail while returning from the test barn back to Brown’s barn. Laminitis set in and through intensive care, she was able to return to the races. Off more than a year layoff, she returned in the Ballston Spa and came up three-quarters of a length short after finding her way to the front in the 1 1/16-mile event. A steady string of works since signal she will not be short for the Flower Bowl.

Sea Calisi, group I-placed in France last fall, has impressed in her three stateside starts under Brown’s care. The late-running filly won Belmont’s Sheepshead bay Stakes (gr. IIT) in May, was defeated by another Brown runner, Dacita, in the New York Stakes (gr. IIT), then rallied from 11th to win Arlington International Race Course’s Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT), perhaps the most important female turf race of the summer.

Brown has won three of the last five runnings of the Flower Bowl with Schwartz’ Stacelita in 2011 and in 2014-15 with Ken and Sarah Ramsey’sStephanie’s Kitten.

The wild card is Ballymore Thoroughbred’s Ame Bleue. In August Ame Bleue finished a close second to Speedy Boarding in Deauville’s Darley Prix Jean Romanet (Fr-I) at 1 1/4 miles. Speedy Boarding won the Oct. 2 Prix de l’Opera Longines (Fr-I) on Arc day at Chantilly. By Dubawi, Ame Bleue is out of Aquarelliste, by Danehill, a three-time group I winner. Among her wins were the 2001 Prix de Diane Hermes (Fr-I, French Oaks).

Both Strike Charmer and Sentiero Italia mixed it up with Lady Eli last time out. Strike Charmer knocked down the Beaugay Stakes (gr. IIIT) in May while Sentiero Italia won last year’s Lake Placid and Sands Point stakes (both gr. IIT) for McLaughlin.

Flower Bowl S. (gr. I)

Belmont Park, Saturday, October 08, 2016, Race 6
  • 1 1/4m
  • Inner turf
  • $500,000
  • 3 yo’s & up Fillies and Mares
  • 3:03 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Ame Bleue (GB) Olivier Peslier 119 Andre Fabre
2 Strike Charmer (KY) Javier Castellano 121 Mark A. Hennig
3 Itsonlyactingdad (KY) John R. Velazquez 119 Todd A. Pletcher
4 Sentiero Italia (KY) Joel Rosario 119 Kiaran P. McLaughlin
5 Lady Eli (KY) Irad Ortiz, Jr. 121 Chad C. Brown
6 Sea Calisi (FR) Florent Geroux 123 Chad C. Brown

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