Groupie Doll won the $400,000 Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. II) in 2012, a race that kicked off an Eclipse Award-worth second-half of the year campaign topped by her victory in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I).
This year she'll return to the 6 1/2-furlong test at the Pennsylvania oval Sept. 9 after a nine-month absence from racing, trainer Buff Bradley confirmed. The 5-year-old daughter of Bowman's Band continues on-the-muscle training at Churchill Downs, where she rolled through five furlongs in :59 3/5 July 26 under jockey Calvin Borel.
"She did very well this morning," said Bradley, who bred the mare with his father, Fred. They co-own her with partners Carl Hurst and Brent Burns.
"Calvin breezed her and it was a freaky good work," Bradley said. "Every week she's getting stronger and doing well. Calvin said he's very impressed by her, she finished strong and galloped out very powerfully today, too. The eighth after the :59 and three, she galloped out in :11 and four. She just does it easy."
Groupie Doll strung together victories in the Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. I), the Humana Distaff (gr. I), the Presque Isle Downs Masters, the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. II), and the Filly & Mare Sprint last year before ending her season with a thrilling runner-up finish a nose behind Stay Thirsty in the Cigar Mile (gr. I) in November. She spent time off at the Bradley family's Indian Ridge Farm near Frankfort, Ky., turned out with retired multi-millionaire Brass Hat, and came back to training at Churchill May 6.
Based at Churchill, Groupie Doll has turned in five moves since returning to the worktab June 29. Three of them were bullets: the July 26 effort, four furlongs in :47 1/5 July 5, and her initial three furlongs in :35 4/5 June 29.
Earlier in the month, Bradley said the mare's connections might consider a run in the $500,000 Ballerina Stakes (gr. I), a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event at Saratoga Race Course. Looking for her first race off the break, however, they've decided to stick with the Masters.
"We're pretty sure we're going to Presque Isle," the trainer said. "We were looking at the races and how they set up, and it worked for her last year. It's not as far of a trip and that's what I talked to my partners about, to try to follow the same route as last year.
"I'm sure the Ballerina is a nice race to win, but she's been off nine months and I don't feel like we should be trying to get her to run her 'A' race in that type of race, coming back. Not that any race she runs is going to be easy, she'll have to work for all of them, but since she's been out for a while we want to see her run and get that under her belt. The Presque Isle Masters is a decent race, too, it's no 'gimmie.' But that's where we thought would be the smartest place to start her year."
Bred in Kentucky out of the Silver Deputy mare Deputy Doll, Groupie Doll has a record of 9-4-2 from 17 starts with earnings of $1,657,850. Out of her nine wins, six have been in graded stakes.