ELMONT, N.Y. – Undefeated Lady Eli is set to take a significant step in her recovery from laminitis with a workout scheduled for July 3 at Belmont Park.
The 4-year-old daughter of Divine Park drilled four times at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Fla., beginning at the end of February, before she developed tendinitis in one of her forelegs.
“We just backed off after that,” trainer Chad Brown said on July 2. “It was a minor amount of tendinitis, but we want everything to be perfect with this horse. We gave her a little time off, kept her right in the barn, and she responded well. She’s perfectly normal now.”
Brown does not have a target in mind for Lady Eli’s return to the races.
“She’ll tell us,” he said. “I’ll monitor her work schedule and when I feel she’s ready to run, we’ll look for a race.”
She last competed when she dominated the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes last July 4 at Belmont Park for her sixth victory, boosting her career earnings to $1,449,800.
Lady Eli stepped on a nail while returning to the barn after that race and developed laminitis in both front feet before overcoming a disease that can be life-threatening.
“I’m grateful she’s back healthy and training great,” Brown said. “We’re aiming high.”
According to the trainer, Lady Eli is giving him every indication that she can return to her brilliant form.
“The way she’s galloping, she’s galloping exactly the way she was before she made her last start,” he said.
He noted that he would not want to keep her on the comeback trail if it became apparent that she would be something less than she once was. She capped a stellar 2-year-old campaign by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
“I’m not going to run this horse unless I feel she’s training the same way she was before,” he said.
For now, he exudes optimism. The prospect that Lady Eli’s comeback could fall short is not something he wishes to consider.
“I don’t think that way,” he said. “She’s given me no indication she won’t make it back.”