ARCADIA, Calif. – The bad news is Lady Eli lost the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf by a nose Saturday at Santa Anita. The good news is she may have another chance at the race in 2017.
As expected, Lady Eli will be withdrawn from this week’s Keeneland November bloodstock sale and instead will be shipped to south Florida and point to a 5-year-old campaign, trainer Chad Brown said.
The catalog for the sale was in August before Lady Eli raced this year, so her ownership group, led by Sol Kumin and Jay Hanley, put her in the sale in case Lady Eli didn’t make it back to her Grade 1 form. But she displayed in all three of her starts – a win and two seconds – that she is as good as ever.
“As long as she was healthy she was going to run again next year,” Brown said Saturday night on his way out of Santa Anita.
Since there is really nothing of note to run her in this year, Lady Eli will ship directly to Palm Meadows, a training center in south Florida, and get a break of undetermined time as Brown and the owners map out a 2017 campaign.
Lady Eli is one of the most popular horses in training in part due to her talent and in part because she overcame the life-threatening disease laminitis. Lady Eli came up just a nose short in her attempt to write the ultimate finish to her comeback story when Queen’s Trust nailed her at the wire under Frankie Dettori.
Brown said Lady Eli “ran a great race. The winner ran a great race. Outstanding ride by Frankie Dettori, he rode an absolutely flawless race from that post to beat Lady Eli. Hats off to him and the connections.”
The connections include trainer Michael Stoute, who convinced owners Patricia and David Thompson of Cheveley Park Stud, to ship Queens’ Trust to California for the Breeders’ Cup. Queen’s Trust had just one win in seven starts but had been competitive in the Group 1 level.
“It means a tremendous amount to have been so successful on an international stage,” Chris Richardson, the managing director for Cheveley Park Stud, wrote in an e-mail. “We always believed she was a top filly who had not much luck in running in her last three races, when behind the unbeaten Minding and other classy fillies who were Classic winners and Breeders’ Cup winners.”
Queen’s Trust was the first Breeders’ Cup starter for the Thompsons since 2005, when Funfair broke down in the Mile at Belmont Park and had to be euthanized.
Queen’s Trust was scheduled to be flown back to England on Sunday night. Richardson confirmed that Queen’s Trust would race again next year and could even target a return in the Filly and Mare Turf.
Queen’s Trust gave Stoute his third victory in the Filly and Mare Turf. Brown has also won three runnings of this race and was bidding for his third straight win Saturday.
Both Queen’s Trust and Lady Eli were assigned a 104 Beyer Speed Figure for the race.
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