SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Sheep Pond Partners’ Lady Eli returned triumphantly to the Saratoga winner’s circle in Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Ballston Spa Stakes.
Away in good order under regular rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., Lady Eli tracked the leader, Dickinson, who set early splits of :24.34, :48.92, and 1:11.64. Held in check through the far turn with nowhere to run, a lane finally opened up as the field hit the stretch drive. The newfound daylight allowed Lady Eli to kick free and kick away from the field, crossing the line in a final time of 1:39.70 for the 1 1/16-mile turf event.
“I got a perfect trip, I saved ground on the first turn and then split some horses, and when I dug in, I asked her and she was there for me,” said Ortiz, Jr. “She’s my favorite. I have been on her (for) her whole life. I’m just excited for her and I’m excited that we won another race.”
After being overtaken for the lead, Dickinson fought gamely to hold onto second, beating Roca Rojo to the wire by a neck. Antonoe and On Leave completed the order of finish. Time and Motion was scratched.
Lady Eli famously returned to the track in last year’s edition following a 13-month recovery from laminitis, a scary and sometimes deadly equine disease. While the 5-year-old Chad Brown trainee finished second in that go-around, she was not to be outdone today in her last-ever race at Saratoga (she is due to retire at the end of the year). The race was her second straight victory at Saratoga after taking last month’s Grade 1 Diana.
“She is amazing,” Brown said. “I’m so glad we decided to bring her here today, for a lot of reasons. We got a good race into her again, and most important, all the fans at Saratoga and beyond got to see her race here one more time; just a great day.
“Winning this race, she was unlucky losing off the layoff, so it’s nice to kind of kill two birds with one stone and wipe the slate.”
Lady Eli returned $3.40 to win, $2.30 to place, and $2.10 to show. Dickinson brought back $5.20 to place and $3.60 to show, while Roca Rojo paid $3.60 to show.