Lady Eli goes west to win the Gamely at Santa Anita

May 30, 2017 07:40am
Lady Eli wins 2017 Gamely
Photo: Zoe Metz Photography

Lady Eli returned to the winner’s circle with a powerful performance in the $300,000 Gamely (G1) at Santa Anita. Trainer Chad Brown sent the now five-year-old mare to California from New York to run on the firm Santa Anita grass course that she relished when she won the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and on which she was defeated by a nose in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.


The Gamely was a rematch between Lady Eli and Avenge, the second and third place finishers from last year’s Breeders’ Cup. In the field of five Avenge was the only horse that liked to run on the lead and she had won half of her eight starts on the Santa Anita turf. Lady Eli typically races in a stalking position, so on this day a change in strategy was in order to prevent Avenge from running loose on the lead.


“The only speed was the one-horse, Avenge, so we tried to be close and don’t let her go away and steal the race,” said Ortiz.


When the gates opened Flavien Prat hustled Avenge out of the number one post position to get the lead and save ground on the rail. Irad Ortiz Jr. was not going to let her get too far in front and chased close behind along with Goodyearforroses. Lady Eli ran on the outside hip of Avenge while Goodyearforroses was behind on the rail. The first two quarters were run in the identical time of 23.23, a moderate pace that seemed to favor Avenge.


After six furlongs went in 1:09.26, Lady Eli was getting closer to the leader with Ortiz clearly wanting Avenge to feel the pressure. In the final turn Lady Eli began to draw even with Avenge, who was making her first start of 2017. The pressure was taking its toll on Avenge and as they straightened away for home it was clear that Lady Eli had the best of Avenge once again.


However, when the mile time went up in 1:33.37, Goodyearforrosses was not finished and had swung outside to make a run at Lady Eli. Briefly, it looked like Lady Eli may have done too much in the battle with Avenge as Cory Nakatani drew closer to Lady Eli. However, as they approached the wire the New York based mare found a bit more run and drew away from that final challenge. Lady Eli’s margin of victory was a half-length and she tripped the timer in real racehorse time of 1:45.29 for the mile and an eighth. The final eighth went in a very fast time of 11.92.


Lady Eli who was sent off as the odds-on, .60-1 favorite, was also heavily bet in the show pool receiving $297,000 of the $338,000 bet. The mutuels on the winner were $3.20, 2.20, and 2.10. Goodyearforroses completed the $2 exacta that paid $12.40. Avenge was able to hang on for third place, 3 ¾ lengths behind Lady Eli, and rounded out the $2 trifecta of $19.80.


Lady Eli has now won a grade one race in all four years that she has competed and her overall record stands at 11: 8-3-0. Her three loses combine to a total of about one length. Career earnings for the Sheep Pond Partners superstar now stand at $2,419,800.


After the race Cherie DeVaux, assistant trainer to Brown, said, “Chad had spoken to Irad (Ortiz) and told him about getting her in the clear. 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. This is the most emotional I’ve ever gotten with any horse. 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, yes.”


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Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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