Lady Eli (Divine Park) and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. win the Ballston Spa (Gr II) at Saratoga Racecourse 8/26/17. Trainer: Chad Brown. Owner: Sheep Pond Partners
Sheep Pond Partner’s multiple graded stakes winner Lady Eli turned in a five-furlong breeze over the inner turf Sunday morning at Belmont Park in preparation for her final career start in the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf on November 4 at Del Mar.
The 5-year-old mare by Divine Park worked in company with Elysea’s World, who finished second in the Grade 2 Canadian at Woodbine last time out, completing the move in 1:01.45, the second-fastest of eight at the distance.
“The course was in good shape,” said trainer Chad Brown. “We had a little drizzle but it was fine. I thought Lady Eli again worked outstanding. It’s very exciting to see her work this way.”
A Grade 1 winner at 2, 3, 4, and 5, Lady Eli owns three wins from four starts this year, including victories in the Grade 1 Gamely in May and the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga on July 22. She has been training up to the Breeders’ Cup following her 1 ½-length score in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa on August 26, which was an entry-day decision for Brown.
“I’m so happy about our decision to do that [run in the Ballston Spa],” Brown said. “We were able to win the race, number one, and the time’s done her well. She gets stronger and stronger each week and we would’ve had to contend with soft-ish conditions in the Flower Bowl last week so it’s all working out for her.”
Lady Eli will have two more breezes before the Filly & Mare Turf, a race she finished second in last year and the final planned start of her career. Despite a serious battle with laminitis as a 3-year-old, which led to a 14-month absence from the races, Lady Eli owns 10 wins and three seconds from 13 lifetime starts for earnings just shy of $3 million. She will offered as a broodmare prospect at the Keeneland November Sale following the Breeders’ Cup.
After sweeping both Belmont stakes on Saturday, Brown reported that Woodford Racing’s Engage and Don Alberto Stable’s Rubilinda each emerged no worse for wear following their respective victories in the Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity and the $200,000 Pebbles.
“Engage and Rubilinda came out of their races in good shape,” he said. “I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do with them yet.”
Brown said he’ll weigh a stretch-out in distance for Engage and will give consideration to the Grade 2, $200,000 Nashua on Sunday, November 5 at Aqueduct Racetrack. The juvenile colt by Into Mischief is a two-time winner at six furlongs from three career starts, including his impressive 3 ½-length Futurity victory.
“We have something to think about, whether I want to run back in three weeks or not, basically, and I’m not sure about that,” he said of the Nashua. “We’ll just observe the horse and see how he trains. So far, he’s exited the race OK. I’ll get a gauge of his energy level in the next couple weeks and I’ll talk to Bill Farish about it. There’s always the option of not running him [again in 2017]. The horse has ran three times as a 2-year-old and we can always freshen him, that’s an option I’ll consider.”
With four starts under her belt, including Saturday’s nose victory in the Pebbles, Rubilinda is still getting much-needed racing experience, Brown noted, but the talented Kentucky-bred daughter of Frankel could be pointed toward the Grade 1 Matriarch for fillies and mares 3-and-up on December 4 at Del Mar to close out her sophomore season.
“She’s come out of the race well,” he said. “She’s a little green in the stretch still and it could be a combination of [things], maybe a touch of cut in the ground that I don’t know how much she liked it down the lane [with] switching leads and such. We’ll just see moving forward how she trains. It’s a possibility we may train her up to the Matriarch against olders. [Maybe] give her one more start this season and get her around two turns in a race like that and get her on firm ground hopefully, and plan for next year.”
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