Sheep Pond Partners' five-time grade 1 winner Lady Eli, who sustained a number of significant lacerations and a puncture wound to her hind legs in the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1T) at Del Mar, has been withdrawn from the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
Trainer Chad Brown reported the mare was being diligently tended to Nov. 5, the morning after her seventh-place finish in the $2 million race, 3 1/2 lengths behind winner Wuheida. Though not life threatening, the injuries mandate stall rest, and Lady Eli's connections decided the best course of action was to scratch from the sale.
"Lady Eli got pretty banged up on Saturday," Brown said. "We will continue to do what we've always done for Lady Eli, which is to put her welfare first. She is a horse of a lifetime."
John Sikura of Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency, had the 5-year-old daughter of Divine Park listed as part of his November consignment.
"She got cut really bad," Sikura said. "She got stepped on and has several puncture wounds. She deserved a swan song to win that race or give her best performance."
The finish was the only one in the mare's 14-race career in which she did not run first (10 times) or second (three times), while earning more than $2.9 million.
"After lengthy discussions with Chad Brown following the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, we have decided that we are going to scratch Lady Eli from this week's Keeneland November sale," read a statement issued by Sheep Pond's Jay Hanley and Sol Kumin. "Unfortunately, Lady Eli was banged around and stepped on from behind heading into the first turn. She suffered a number of significant lacerations to both of her hind legs and she lost one of her hind shoes in the incident. The fact that she raced another mile and finished the race with these injuries and shoeless is amazing, and a further testament to her toughness and courage.
"Right now our efforts are focused squarely on trying to get her well again. Putting her through the trials of a sale in her current condition is simply out of the question. As soon as she can travel, she will go to John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Farm near Lexington to rest and recover."
Despite Saturday's loss, Sikura said he is convinced Lady Eli will be crowned champion turf mare in year-end balloting.
"There wasn't an (American-based) filly that dominated the race or had a world-class performance that exceeded her body of work this year, and certainly her entire race career, in which she showed nothing but the highest level of class. She is unique and remarkable. Though disappointed to scratch one of the greatest turf distaffers of all time, our philosophy at Hill 'n' Dale has always been to put the safety, soundness, and well being of our horses first. We trust the advice of the horse's owner and trainer."
Lady Eli won her first six starts, including the 2014 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T), before a serious bout of laminitis sent her to the sideline. Her courageous efforts to overcome the condition were well-documented, as she recovered and went on to excel at the highest level.
A grade 1 winner at 2, 3, 4, and 5, Lady Eli had three wins from five starts this year, including victories in the Gamely Stakes (G1T) at Santa Anita Park, Diana Stakes (G1T) and the Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa Stakes (G2T) at Saratoga Race Course. Her additional top-level victories included the 2016 Flower Bowl Stakes (G1T) at Belmont Park, and the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T) in 2015.
"I've never seen one up close with this much heart and determination," Brown said.