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Lady Eli is Eclipse Finalist

     In a crowning achievement for Runnymede’s breeding program, undefeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winner Lady Eli has earned the distinguished honor of being voted a finalist for the Eclipse Award as 2014’s outstanding two-year-old filly.

     Not only is the now three-year-old a daughter of one of the farm’s most prized mares, Sacre Coeur, she claims Runnymede-bred Metropolitan Handicap (G1) winner Divine Park as her sire. Her second dam, Kazadancoa, is Runnymede’s most significant foundation mare of recent decades.

    “It’s just so special to think that in breeding our first Breeders’ Cup winner, we bred the sire as well,” reflected Runnymede President Brutus Clay. “She is Runnymede, through and through.Lady Eli flies to impressive Breeders' Cup triumph under Irad Ortiz Jr.

     “And since she was just two in 2014, we’re hopeful and prayerful that she’ll go on to do even more as a three-year-old and a four-year-old, and maybe even as a five-year-old.

     “She’s perfect right now. Even when things didn’t go her way in races, such as when she was blocked and bumped in the stretch of her debut at Saratoga, she found that fire and determination to win, the qualities that make a champion,” he said.

     Lady Eli proved much the best in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, drawing away to win by 2 ¾ lengths over Grade 1 winner Sunset Glow in 1:33.41 for the mile, a time that Clay noted would have put her at least six lengths ahead of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Hootenanny. He was timed in 1:34.79 while winning the corresponding grass race for juvenile males, which earned him honors as a finalist for the Eclipse as outstanding two-year-old male.

     Clay praised Lady Eli’s trainer Chad Brown, who also was voted a finalist in the outstanding trainer category after saddling three Breeders’ Cup winners, and his staff for their work with the filly.

     In a taped interview shown during the televised announcement of the Eclipse finalists on HRTV, Brown described Lay Eli as a “remarkable filly.

     “We’re so lucky to have her in the barn. She’s one of those racehorses who’s done everything right from the first day,” Brown said. “We look forward to many more wins with her.”

    Clay also thanked Lady Eli’s owners, Jay Henley and Sol Kumin, who race under the banner of Sheep Pond Partners, for their hospitality on the day of her Breeders’ Cup victory at Santa Anita Park. Henley and Kumin invited Clay and his wife, Sarah, to share their exultation in the winner’s circle after jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. had steered the filly home to victory.

     Earlier, bloodstock agent Pete Bradley—who selected Lady Eli as a yearling from the Runnymede consignment at the Keeneland September sale and bought her for $160,000—helped the Clays visit the filly at Brown’s barn.

     Lady Eli raced three times in 2014, following up her Saratoga maiden victory with a flourish while capturing the Miss Grillo Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park by three lengths while “geared down,” as the chart noted, and capping her season at the Breeders’ Cup. To date, she has earned $719,800.

     Clay noted that he expects Willis Horton’s Take Charge Brandi, who continued her campaign past her Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) win on dirt with victories in the Delta Downs Princess Stakes (G3) and the Starlet Stakes (G1), to be awarded the Eclipse.

     Yet Lady Eli’s Eclipse finalist distinction is an achievement unto itself, one that Runnymede will long savor.