Undefeated Lady Eli, most recently a facile winner of the $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (gr. IT), is battling laminitis, according to her trainer Chad Brown and Jay Hanley, one of her co-owners.
"We're in a wait and see situation," said Hanley, who owns Lady Eli with Sol Kumin under their Sheep Pond Partners banner.
"It's horrifying and disheartening. If you're an optimist, you'd say she'll race again. If you're a pessimist, she could be battling for her life."
Following her victory in the Belmont Oaks, according to Hanley, Lady Eli stepped on a nail with her left front foot walking back to Brown's barn from the test barn. Hanley said it didn't seem like a big deal at first. The nail was removed, but about a week later Lady Eli began showing laminitic changes in her right front foot, which she had been favoring. Afterwards, the left foot also began showing signs of laminitis.
"I feel badly for all her fans and for Chad, who is very close to this horse," Hanley said. "Hopefully she can take her fighting spirit and put it into fighting this."
Said Brown in a statement, "Thankfully, we have assembled the best possible team of veterinarians and farriers to stabilize her and assist her through these difficult times. I ask that all of her fans keep this magnificent racehorse in their prayers and hopefully she will be back on the racetrack flashing her brilliance again."
Lady Eli, a 3-year-old filly by Divine Park—Sacre Coeur, by Saint Ballado, was bred in Kentucky by Runnymeade Farm and Catesby Clay. She debuted at Saratoga last August and took a nose decision, then stepped up and won the Miss Grillo Stakes (gr. IIIT) and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT) to close out her 2-year-old campaign.
She returned this year at Keeneland, winning the Appalachian Stakes Presented by Japan Racing Association (gr. IIIT) and the Wonder Again Stakes before the Belmont Oaks. She has earned $1,449,800 to date.