December 3, 2023

Lady Eli sells to Hill ‘n’ Dale for $4.2 million at Keeneland November opener

Champion Lady Eli, carrying her first foal by War Front, topped the opening session (Keeneland photo)

Champion Lady Eli (Divine Park) was consigned to the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, as agent for her owners, and the beloved turf performer returned to the farm’s safekeeping when Hill ‘n’ Dale’s John Sikura purchased her for $4.2 million.

Entering the ring during Monday’s opening session as Hip No. 111, the six-year-old mare is carrying her first foal to War Front on an April 4 cover. Bidding commenced at $1 million and rose in large increments until the gavel was brought down on the pro tem sale topper.

Lady Eli was making her third Keeneland sales appearance. A $160,000 September yearling by Bradley Thoroughbreds, agent, she brought the same price from Jay Hanley as a two-year-old in training at Keeneland April.

Trained by Chad Brown for Sheep Pond Partners, Lady Eli compiled a record of 14-10-3-0, $2,959,800. She won her first six starts, highlighted by the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) and 2015 Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1), before battling life-threatening laminitis.

Lady Eli made a miraculous comeback in the 2016 Ballston Spa (G2), missing narrowly off the almost 14-month layoff. She returned to the winner’s circle in the Flower Bowl Invitational (G1), but suffered a heartbreaking last-gasp defeat by Queen’s Trust in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). At five last year, she added the Gamely (G1), Diana (G1), and Ballston Spa, along with a head loss in the Jenny Wiley (G1). The 3-2 favorite to go out on top in the Filly & Mare Turf, she was unfortunately struck into early and wound up seventh. Her lacerations prompted connections to withdraw her from the 2017 Keeneland November Sale, and during her transition to retirement, she was honored as champion turf female.

Out of the winning Saint Ballado mare Sacre Coeur, Lady Eli is a half-sister to multiple Grade 3 victress Bizzy Caroline (Afleet Alex). Her second dam is celebrated Runnymede matron Kazadancoa (Green Dancer).

Grade 2 winner My Miss Sophia (Unbridled’s Song), also in foal to War Front, shot to number two on the leaderboard when commanding $4 million from Steve Young, agent. Offered by Lane’s End, agent, as Hip 147, the 2014 Kentucky Oaks (G1) runner-up’s first foal is a weanling War Front filly. My Miss Sophia is a half-sister to ill-fated 2015 Florida Derby (G10 hero Materiality (Afleet Alex), their dam being Grade 2-placed stakes vixen Wildwood Flower (Langfuhr).

Katsumi Yoshida, active at Fasig-Tipton Sunday evening, went to $2.2 million for Tiffany’s Honour (Street Cry), who is in foal to Medaglia d’Oro on a May 8. Also from the Lane’s End consignment, the seven-year-old was produced by Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour (Deputy Minister), making her a half-sister to champion Rags to Riches (A.P. Indy) and fellow Belmont S. (G1) winner Jazil (Seeking the Gold) as well as Grade 2 scorer Casino Drive (Mineshaft) and Irish highweight Man of Iron (Giant’s Causeway).

In all, eight horses brought $1 million or more, equaling the figure from last year’s opener.

Irish stakes scorer Key to My Heart (Galileo), in foal with her first on a March 18 cover to War Front, was sold to Summer Wind Equine for $1.75 million. Eaton Sales, agent, consigned the four-year-old daughter of Grade 1 winner A Z Warrior (Bernardini).

Claiborne Farm, agent, secured Grade 3 winner and multiple Grade 1-placed Stays in Vegas (City Zip) for $1.5 million from the consignment of James B. Keogh (Grovendale), agent. In foal to War Front on an April 5 cover, the five-year-old is the dam of a weanling filly by Curlin.

Another City Zip mare, Grade 1 vixen Zipessa consigned by St. George Sales, agent, attracted a winning bid of $1.25 million from Shadai Farm. The six-year-old mare is carrying her first foal, by Medaglia d’Oro, on a March 17 cover.

Two daughters of Galileo rounded out the seven-figure hips.

Group 3 winner Pretty Perfect from Eaton Sales, agent, brought the hammer down at $1.125 million, Town & Country Horse Farms the successful bidder. Out of Group 3 heroine Milanova (Danehill), herself a full sister to Holy Roman Emperor, Pretty Perfect is in foal to War Front on a March 12 cover. Her first foal, a weanling filly by War Front, was withdrawn.

The first to reach the threshold, $1 million mare Galileo’s Song, was bought by Shimokobe Farm/Polo Green Stable, agent. The multiple Grade 3-placed five-year-old is carrying her first foal on a February 26 cover to Curlin. Offered by Hill ‘n’ Dale, she is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Magnificent Song (Unbridled’s Song).

The day’s top weanling was an $800,000 Tapit filly. The first from champion female sprinter La Verdad (Yes It’s True), the March 15 foal was consigned by Eaton Sales, agent, and purchased by the partnership of Whisper Hill Farm and Three Chimneys Farm.

On Monday, Keeneland sold 120 horses for $56,429,000, a 33.4 percent rise from the $42,304,000 grossed by 96 sellers at last year’s kickoff (which was on a Tuesday). The $470,242 average was up 6.7 percent from $440,667, but Monday’s median spiked 16.67 percent, from $300,000 to $350,000.

For full coverage of the 12-day sale that runs through November 16, visit