09/10/2015 12:20PM

One of Lady Eli’s vets killed in accident


ELMONT, N.Y. – While Lady Eli continues to make great progress in her battle against laminitis – with the possibility of returning to training early next year – one of the podiatrists instrumental in her recovery was killed this week in a vehicular accident.

Robert Agne, a veterinarian with the Rood & Riddle Equine Clinic in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., was riding his bicycle Monday in Pawlet, Vt., when he was struck by a car, whose driver had fallen asleep at the wheel, according to published reports. Agne, 54, was declared dead at the scene, according to police.

Agne and Bryan Fraley, a podiatrist from Lexington, Ky., were the first two called to work on Lady Eli when she developed laminitis shortly after her victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational on July 4.

“When this filly developed laminitis and was in trouble, between Bob and Bryan, they were instrumental in not only saving her life but possibly preserving her racing career,” Chad Brown, Lady Eli’s trainer, said Thursday. “In recent weeks, Bob’s the one who has come down and graduated her into her new shoes and has been really overseeing the case locally until we can get her to Kentucky, where Bryan takes over. They really worked well as a team.”

Brown admired the dedication and compassion Agne displayed for Lady Eli, driving down weekly from his home in Vermont to work on the filly.

“For him to drop what he’s doing and come down and try to first save this filly and then continue to check on her and be available whenever you needed him to come down, I can just tell for a guy like him it was never about the accolades or the money, it was about trying to help this horse,” Brown said. “For the short time I knew him, it seemed like that’s what he was all about, the horse.”

Lady Eli, based at Belmont, has shown improvement all summer and could soon ship to Dell Ridge Farm in Lexington and get turned out in a paddock. Depending on how that goes, she could then rejoin Brown at Palm Meadows later this year or early next year and be put in light training for a possible return to the races in 2016.

“Right now, she acts, walks, and looks completely normal,” Brown said. “We’ll see how she responds to the pressure of training.”

Lady Eli, a daughter of Divine Park owned by Sheep Pond Partners, is undefeated in six career starts.