Lady Eli settles in at Santa Anita for Gamely
May 26, 2017 11:09am
Lady Eli at SA (5-26-17) - 615x400
Photo: Zoe Metz Photography

Lady Eli, the mare who has no scare, is the 4-5 morning line favorite in Saturday’s Grade I Gamely Stakes, and deservedly so.

The five-year-old daughter of Divine Park trained by Eclipse Award winner Chad Brown for Sheep Pond Partners has a near-impeccable record, with seven wins and three seconds from 10 starts, her combined margin of defeat in those three seconds less than a length.

Lady Eli has been favored in nine of her 10 races, her last eight in a row, six of those at odds-on. She had her last major breeze for the Gamely on Sunday at Belmont Park before arriving at Santa Anita five days ago.

“She settled in beautifully and has been training great since we’ve been here,” said Cherie DeVaux, who has been Brown’s assistant for seven years. “She came in Monday and we’re excited to get her going again. She likes the track at Santa Anita.”

Lady Eli has been ridden in all of her races by Irad Ortiz Jr., who will be astride again Saturday. Together they won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf here on Oct. 31, 2014, and were beaten a nose in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita last Nov. 5.

Ortiz, who turns 25 on Aug. 11, is a graduate of the Escuela Vocacional Hipica, a school for prospective jockeys in his native Puerto Rico. He currently leads the nation in wins with 114 from 476 mounts and is fifth in earnings with $6,238,238.

One of his idols was Angel Cordero Jr., the first Puerto Rican jockey to be inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame. Cordero’s agent was Tony Matos, who now represents Santiago Gonzalez and apprentice Evin Roman, the latter a graduate of Escuela Vocacional Hipica and currently the leading ‘bug’ rider at Santa Anita with four victories.

The field for the Gamely, race five: Avenge, Flavien Prat, 5-2; Pretty Girl, Mike Smith, 12-1; Goodyearforroses, Corey Nakatani, 4-1; Mokat, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; and Lady Eli, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 4-5. September Stars was scratched.


In addition to 5-2 morning line favorite Midnight Storm, Phil D’Amato sends out late-running 8-1 chance Big John B in Saturday’s Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita for three-year-olds and up at a mile and a quarter.

Racing on dirt is not Big John B’s forte, although the trainer was not quick to dismiss his chances if conditions are fortuitous.

“He’s run some big races on the main track here,” D’Amato said of Big John B, who has had 35 of his 42 career races on grass. “Going a mile and a quarter with a bunch of tactical speed horses, you never know what’s going to happen.

“One thing for sure with this horse, he always sits back there and then gives you his best, big run. Anything can happen and he’s doing well.”

Owned by Michael House, Big John B would gain millionaire status should he win the Gold Cup, which awards $300,000 to the winner. The son of Hard Spun already has bankrolled $871,030, thanks mainly to 15 wins, seven seconds and five thirds.

The Gold Cup, race nine of 10 with a first post time of 1 p.m.: $10,000 supplemental nominee American Freedom, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Follow Me Crev, Kent Desormeaux, 4-1; Prime Attraction, Jamie Theriot, 30-1; Midnight Storm, Flavien Prat, 5-2; Cupid, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Big John B, Mike Smith, 8-1; Accelerate, Tyler Baze, 4-1; and 2015 Gold Cup winner Hard Aces, Santiago Gonzalez, 8-1. Texas Ryano was scratched.

Source: Santa Anita Park


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