Once Around the Training Track...
Lady Eli — the filly who became a success almost as fast as she runs and then had her career temporarily halted by laminitis — has been retired.
Jay Hanley and Sol Kumin, the principals in Sheep Pond Partners, announced this week the daughter of Divine Park, who is a finalist for a 2017 Eclipse Award, will be bred to War Front who stands at Claiborne.
After that mating, she will be consigned to the 2018 Keeneland November sale, one year after her originally scheduled appearance in the sale ring.
Hanley and Kumin took the filly at auction for $160,000 at age 2.
Under the watchful eye of champion trainer Chad Brown, the filly won three races in her sophomore year including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly Turf.
At 3, she won her first three starts, the third of which was the prestigious Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational.
While returning to her stall at Belmont Park following that race, Lady Eli sustained a puncture injury from what was believed to be a roofing nail.
Complications from that wound resulted in laminitis, a disease that is very often fatal.
After a long period of 24-hour care by Brown, assistant trainer Cherie DeVaux and other members of Brown's staff, the laminitis began to clear.
In late November, she was well enough to be shipped to Brown's Florida farm to train for a comeback.
After a second place finish in Saratoga's Grade 2 Ballston Spa, she returned to the winners' circle in Belmont's Grade 1 Flower Bowl.
Lady Eli's final start came in the 2017 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Del Mar where she encountered severe traffic trouble coming out of the gate. She lost a hind shoe and sustained severe cuts on both hind legs while finishing seventh.
That injury caused Harley and Kumin to cancel plans to offer their champion for sale in November 2017 and schedule her breeding for this year.
Belmont Park Eyed For Night Racing
If New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gets everything in his proposed budget passed, Belmont Park will have horse racing four nights a week.
The governor's budget contains a well buried provision that will allow for racing on the main track only that concludes before 10:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday.
A provision in the bill calls for coordination with Yonkers Raceway, the harness track in Westchester County, so that starting times for races are staggered.
Night racing at Belmont has been proposed before and was approved by the State Senate but died of inaction in the Assembly.
Installation of the necessary lighting would be undertaken simultaneously with construction of the new hockey and general sports arena that was previously approved for construction in a lightly used parking area adjacent to the Belmont Park grandstand.
Firenze Fire Moves Up In Derby Rankings
When Firenze Fire won the $150,000 ungraded Jerome Stakes on Jan. 13 at Aqueduct, he earned more than the $90,000 purse for the Mr. Amore Stable of Mountain Lakes, N.J. and its owner, Ron Lombardi.
The 3-year-old colt, who is trained by Jason Servis, also collected 10 points in the convoluted system used by Churchill Downs to qualify starters in the Kentucky Derby.
Those 10, coupled with 10 earned for a first place finish in the $500,000, Grade 1 Champagne Stakes for 2-year-olds at Belmont Park on Oct. 7, puts the Mr. Amore colt in second place on the list for the May 5 running of the Derby.
Good Magic has 24 points, 20 for winning the $1.8 million, Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Del Mar and four for finishing second to Firenze Fire in the Champagne.
McKinzie, one of many 3-year-old Derby contenders trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, is in third place in the standings with 20 points.
Ten of those were earned for a win in Los Alamitos' $300,000, Grade 1 Cash Call Futurity when Solomini was disqualified for a bumping incident in the home stretch with McKinzie.
The other 10 came for a 3-1/2-length win in Santa Anita's $100,345, Grade 3 Sham Stakes.
Firenze Fire is in second place because he has earned $517,500 in Non-Restricted Stakes races. McKinzie has banked $240,000.
Stand by, racing fans! The twists and turns for Louisville on May 5 have just begun.
Empire Line Wins Damon Runyon Stakes
West Point Thoroughbreds' and RAP Racing's Empire Line took the lead passing the furlong pole and then held off a challenge from Evaluator to win the $100,000 Damon Runyon Stakes for New York-breds on Martin Luther King Day at the Big A.
The race, a one mile contest, was originally carded for 2-year-olds on Dec. 30. When bad weather forced the management to shut down the race track that day, the Runyon was re-carded for 3-year-olds on the holiday.
The now 3-year-old son of Morning Line from the Vindication mare Homecoming Dance was fresh off of a maiden win at six furlongs on Dec. 1.
With Eric Cancel in the saddle for trainer George Weaver, Empire Line defeated six rivals getting the mile in 1:38.75 over a track labeled 'fast' under a 116-pound impost. The official winning margin was a nose for the even money favorite.
Evaluator and Manny Franco, who were giving the winner six pounds, took second money with Morning Breeze and Chris De Carlo finishing third.
In the regularly scheduled $100,000 Interborough, Corms Racing Stable's Divine Miss Grey survived a backstretch duel with Lucy 'N Ethel and got home to win by 3-1/4 lengths as the 11 to 10 favorite.
Kendrick Caramouche was aboard the newly minted 4-year-old who is a daughter of Divine Park from the Friends Lake mare Seattle Grey. The Danny Gargan trainee ran the seven furlongs in 1:23.30 over a 'fast' track defeating nine rivals.
The NYRA's check for $60,000 raised Divine Miss Grey's purse earnings to $293,672.
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