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Miracle Filly Lady Eli Returns in 2016 Ballston Spa

Miracle Filly Lady Eli Returns in 2016 Ballston Spa by Jordan Sigmon: This time last summer Lady Eli was fighting for her life after being stricken with laminitis, a disease that affects a horse’s hoof and often proves fatal. On Saturday, the unbeaten filly will look to make a triumphant return to the races in the GII Ballston Spa at Saratoga.

Lady Eli

This time last summer Lady Eli was fighting for her life after being stricken with laminitis, a disease that affects a horse’s hoof and often proves fatal. On Saturday, the unbeaten filly will look to make a triumphant return to the races in the GII Ballston Spa at Saratoga.
Photo: Susie Raisher, Coglianese/NYRA

On July 4, 2015 the scene was a far cry from what it soon would be. Lady Eli had just powered home in the GI Belmont Oaks, her 6th victory in just as many starts. The win had her connections dreaming of another Breeders’ Cup victory for the filly, but little did they know the tragedy that was about to strike. Just ten days later it was announced to the world that Lady Eli had laminitis in both front feet, the cause thought to be stepping on an unfortunate nail heading home from the test barn after her Belmont Oaks win.

On July 30, trainer Chad Brown told the public that Lady Eli was “showing improvement” and “moving comfortably,” even going out to graze for thirty minutes every day. While the filly continued to make steady progress, the question of whether or not she would race again remained unanswered.

Lady Eli returned to Chad Brown’s winter base in Florida on November 28, 2015 where she tack walked for about two weeks before being allowed to jog for the first time on December 16. A little over two months after that, Lady Eli recorded her first work since returning to training, going an easy three furlongs in 38 flat. She continued to work steadily through mid-March, but her connections decided to back off a little bit when she started developing some mild tendinitis.

On July 3, 2016, a day removed from a year since she last ran, Lady Eli set her feet on the Belmont turf for the first time, working four furlongs in 52 1/5. Since then she’s worked seven more times, all on turf, and each one pleasing trainer Chad Brown more and more.

Winning will be no easy task as she will face a field that includes GI winner Miss Temple City, Saratoga specialist Sentiero Italia, and the speedy Phipps filly Onus. Lady Eli will be aided by Sympathy who was recently purchased by her owners to be a pacesetter for her in this race.

Come post time on Saturday Lady Eli will likely be the favorite, and everyone will be cheering for her to keep her perfect record, but not because they want her to stay perfect, because of everything she has overcome over the past year. Win or lose; Lady Eli is a champion in every sense of the word.

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