ARCADIA, Calif. (May 27, 2017)–A tracking second throughout, classy Lady Eli overhauled pacesetter Avenge turning for home and repelled a resolute challenge from Goodyearforroses late to take Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita by a half length under regular rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. Trained by Chad Brown, Lady Eli, who overcame a life threatening bout with laminitis last year, negotiated 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:45.29.
“Chad had spoken to Irad and told him about getting her in the clear,” said Cherie DeVaux, assistant to Brown, who remained with his stable at Belmont Park. “He didn’t want him to take too much hold of her because he didn’t want her to have too much to do. He was concerned about Avenge getting an easy lead.
“Because of everything she’s been through, it’s way more emotional when she runs…Her tenacity is what makes her great. It was really emotional for me today because this is the first time I’ve saddled her. The Breeders’ Cup (Filly & Mare Turf on Nov. 4 at Del Mar) is the ultimate objective.”
Second, beaten a head in her lone start this year, Keeneland’s Grade I Jenny Wiley Stakes on April 15, Lady Eli was off at 3-5 in a field of five fillies and mares three and up and paid $3.20, $2.20 and $2.10.
A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by Divine Park, she’s owned by Sheep Pond Partners, who collected $180,000 for the win, boosting her earnings to $2,419,800. With the Gamely her fourth career Grade I triumph, she’s now 11-8-3-0 overall.
“I just tried to follow the speed, which was Avenge today,” said New York-based Ortiz, Jr. “I tried to follow as close as possible and it worked out. It’s always a nice trip when I get to come out here.”
Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Irish-bred Goodyearforroses was third early and moved into contention around the far turn, got to the hip of the winner a furlong out but was no match inside the sixteenth pole, finishing second, 3 ¼ lengths in front of Avenge.
Off at 8-1, Goodyearforroses paid $4.20 and $2.20.
“She ran gamely,” said Nakatani. “She gave me every indication and every chance to do it. She ran a great race–she ran dynamite. It was a big effort for this horse today to try to run down a filly like this.”
Ridden by Flavien Prat and idle since Nov. 5, Avenge tired through the drive to finish one half length in front of Mokat. Off at 8-5, Avenge paid $2.10 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.23, 46.46, 1:09.69 and 1:33.37.