Undefeated Lady Eli is right on course for her expected return in the $400,000 Ballston Spa (gr. II) Aug. 27 at Saratoga following a five-furlong breeze the morning of Aug. 7, trainer Chad Brown said.
Under regular exercise rider Walter Malasquez, Lady Eli worked over the Oklahoma turf course in company with Beverly D. (gr. IT)-bound Sea Calisi, with jockey Florent Geroux aboard. New York Racing Associations clockers caught the pair in splits of :12 1/5 seconds, :24 1/5, and :36 4/5. Hitting the wire together, the duo completed the move in 1:00 1/5 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13 1/5.
"(She's) very much on target from what I saw today," said Brown. "So long as she doesn't have any setbacks, knock on wood, she's right on target for the Ballston Spa. We're looking forward to running her."
This was the 4-year-old Lady Eli's second local work since arriving from Belmont Park in late July. Owned by Sheep Pond Partners, the Divine Park filly was a towering presence in her class in her 2- and 3-year-old seasons, unrivaled in six straight victories, including the 2014 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT).
According to Brown, Lady Eli is nearing the end of a long road to recovery from laminitis that has kept her sidelined for more than 13 months following her 2 3/4-length victory in the Belmont Oaks (gr. IT) in July 2015.
"It's remarkable what she's accomplished but it's not surprising, because it's her," Brown said. "Being around this horse all this time, since she was 2, I've learned her personality, how incredibly talented she is, how tough she is, physically and mentally.
"Lady Eli is made of steel, really, when you think about it. I'm a fan of hers along with being her trainer," he continued. "It's great to see her go out there and, to me, be back on top in her works. I don't know if I've ever seen her work as well as I what I just saw. I think that's rewarding for the large team of people that worked with this horse to get her where she is today. She's a remarkable horse, but she's had some help along the way, from a lot of talented people who put in a lot of overtime to attend to her every need and, as you saw today, it's paying off."