Lady Eli, the mare who has no scare, is the 4-5 morning line favorite in Saturday's Grade I Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita, and deservedly so.
The five-year-old daughter of Divine Park trained by Eclipse Award winner Chad Brown for Sheep Pond Partners has a near-impeccable record, with seven wins and three seconds from 10 starts, her combined margin of defeat in those three seconds less than a length.
Lady Eli has been favored in nine of her 10 races, her last eight in a row, six of those at odds-on. She had her last major breeze for the Gamely on Sunday at Belmont Park before arriving at Santa Anita five days ago.
“She settled in beautifully and has been training great since we've been here,” said Cherie DeVaux, who has been Brown's assistant for seven years. “She came in Monday and we're excited to get her going again. She likes the track at Santa Anita.”
Lady Eli has been ridden in all of her races by Irad Ortiz Jr., who will be astride again Saturday. Together they won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf here on Oct. 31, 2014, and were beaten a nose in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita last Nov. 5.
Ortiz, who turns 25 on Aug. 11, is a graduate of the Escuela Vocacional Hipica, a school for prospective jockeys in his native Puerto Rico. He currently leads the nation in wins with 114 from 476 mounts and is fifth in earnings with $6,238,238.
One of his idols was Angel Cordero Jr., the first Puerto Rican jockey to be inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame. Cordero's agent was Tony Matos, who now represents Santiago Gonzalez and apprentice Evin Roman, the latter a graduate of Escuela Vocacional Hipica and currently the leading 'bug' rider at Santa Anita with four victories.
The field for the Gamely, race five: Avenge, Flavien Prat, 5-2; Pretty Girl, Mike Smith, 12-1; Goodyearforroses, Corey Nakatani, 4-1; Mokat, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; and Lady Eli, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 4-5. September Stars was scratched.
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