Lady Eli Rated Co-Best Juvenile Filly
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Runnymede-bred Lady Eli, who romped to an impressive victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to cap her undefeated season, has been rated the co-best two-year-old filly in the United States for 2014 with champion Take Charge Brandi.

The 123-pound assignment given to Lady Eli on The Jockey Club’s Experimental Free Handicap also put the daughter of Divine Park out of our Saint Ballado mare Sacre Coeur above all American colts excepting only champion American Pharoah and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Texas Red, who were rated at 126.Lady Eli at Santa Anita Park

Published annually since 1935, the Experimental Free Handicap is a weight-based assessment of the previous year’s leading two-year-olds, with the weights compiled for a hypothetical race at 1 1/16 miles.

This year’s list of eligible horses was expanded to review all two-year-olds of 2014 that started in graded or listed stakes races run in the continental U.S. instead of only the top four finishers. Out of the eligible 196 males and 174 fillies, a total of 100 males and 88 fillies were assigned weights.

The weighting committee of racing secretaries consisted of P. J. Campo of the Stronach Group, Ben Huffman of Churchill Downs and Keeneland, Martin Panza of The New York Racing Association Inc. and Thomas S. Robbins of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

As noted by the committee members and The Jockey Club in supplemental information, Lady Eli earned $719,800 during her three-race season, which began with a maiden special weight win over 1 1/16 miles on the Saratoga Race Course turf.

Owned by Sheep Pond Partners, trained by Chad Brown and ridden all season by Irad Ortiz Jr., Lady Eli next scored in the Miss Grillo Stakes (G3) at the same distance on Belmont Park’s turf, with the chart noting that she won “going away” after a five-wide rally.

In the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita Park, Lady Eli spurted through an opening on the rail to prove much the best, crossing the finish line for the mile in 1:33.41. In many years her time could have been a winning one in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) for older runners and it was more than a second faster than Hootenanny won the corresponding Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) for males.

Lady Eli earned a vacation after that effort but has resumed light training with Brown at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida.