Those who don't follow the sport closely and/or don't know horses well may not care very much, but this is a significant victory for ANY horse and it should be widely celebrated, not just in our industry but in the sports world as a whole. I know, I know...I should keep dreaming. As long as our sport remains under the radar, so will our athletes and the struggles they face...but laminitis is nothing to take lightly.
Just the mere fact that Lady Eli overcame this horrific condition to begin with is nothing short of, dare I say it, a miracle. Laminitis is the second leading cause of death of horses in the United States, behind only the even more dreaded colic. If you're even reading my blog surely you remember, or at least know of, the late Barbaro...so hopefully I don't have to dive into the tragic story of his losing battle with laminitis in order to demonstrate my point further.
I've experienced the horrors of laminitis first hand, and I know that it takes a TRUE super-horse to beat it. Even if the horse is able to fight through the physical challenges with the help of an amazing team of veterinarians, farriers, technicians and caregivers...often the odds are still stacked against him or her. Lady Eli went into this fight a champion, no doubt...anyone who witnessed her 6-race winning streak can attest to that...but she came out of it an even bigger champ in my opinion.
Whether she returns to her winning form on the track or not is still a lingering question...but the fact that she is even able to attempt a comeback is, I'll say it again, miraculous. No one is exactly raving about her 3 furlong work (:38 and 4/5) at Palm Meadows this morning, but I highly doubt they intended her to tear the track up...it was more about stretching her legs and getting re-acclimated after such a long layoff. To be fair, many horses who return after a battle with something as severe as laminitis just aren't quite the same on the track afterward, and there is nothing wrong with that. We say it a lot about the greatest of horses in so many situations..."she has nothing left to prove..." and it's true. She could end up never crossing another finish line in front again and still come out a hero in every way that matters. Chad Brown and her new owners could have retired her to broodmare duty immediately after her recovery, but they clearly believe she still has something to offer on the track. How awesome would it be if their instincts are correct and she returns even better than ever? Even if she returns on the same level she was at when she was injured last summer, watch out!
Here she is, literally moments before she was injured by stepping on a nail, winning the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes with EASE on July 4, 2015:
For more information visit: Lady Eli Records First Breeze at Palm Meadows