Groupie Doll overcame a wide trip in Saturday's $909,000 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita to score an easy win and wrap up the Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter. The Bowman's Band filly is now five-for-five since trainer Bill "Buff" Bradley added blinkers for her run in the Grade 1 Madison at Keeneland in April, and finished this seven-furlong, fast-dirt event in 1:20 3/5.
"She broke really good," Bradley said. "I saw Rajiv riding her, but that was the plan. I told him to keep her close and in a position where she could make her move. It worked out wonderfully.
"I don't know what I would have done if she would have lost," he laughed. "I don't think I could have gotten out of here. Everyone wanted to 'single' her, and to be honest, I was sweating that more than anything. This is unbelievable."
Jockey Rajiv Maragh was forced to settle Groupie Doll out in the center of the track when the gates opened as Teddy's Promise led the field through :22 1/5 and :44 on the backstretch. By the time the pacesetter hit the turn, Groupie Doll had tugged her way up to be three wide, just outside of Teddy's Promise and Dust and Diamonds.
The leader faded, leaving the way clear for a stretch duel between the other two, but Groupie Doll wasn't having any part of that. The four-year-old miss easily asserted her dominance and drew off in the lane to be 4 1/2 lengths clear on the wire.
"You're the big favorite and expected to win, but you still have to get there," Maragh stated. "It's never easy until you pass the wire.
"There were several scenarios that could have unfolded. One that I didn't want to see was Dust and Diamonds on an easy lead. When I saw that she wasn't, it let us sit back and be more patient. She's done that all year and now done that on the biggest stage. She is so consistent. She's obviously going to be champion."
"We thought that she would be able to stay out there and watch what the others were doing," Bradley remarked when asked about the wide trip. "As soon as she came out of the gate, Rajiv did a great job riding her. If you don't stay after this filly, she'll drop on back and we didn't want her to have too much to do.
"It worked out perfectly in the end result. That's about how I played the race out in my head, how it happened, really."
Sent off the 3-5 favorite against her nine rivals, Groupie Doll paid $3.40, $2.60 and $2.10. Dust and Diamonds held second by 3 3/4 lengths over Switch, who was followed under the wire by Belle of the Hall and Rumor.
"She ran beautifully. We had a good trip and at the quarter-pole she just took me. I thought I was on the winner," admitted Julien Leparoux, who was aboard Dust and Diamonds. "But the winner came by me and she was best today. She's a good filly. But my filly is very good also."
"She ran her race and gave everything she had," trainer Steve Asmussen added about the runner-up. "Julien gave her a great ride. I am very proud of her. She got beat by Groupie Doll, a good horse, and our mare has had a great year."
Musical Romance, the defending winner and last year's champion female sprinter, filled out the sixth spot, while Turbulent Descent, Teddy's Promise, Great Hot and Strike the Moon completed the order of finish.
"She broke good and she was able to save some ground. She made a move on the inside, but she didn't have it today," remarked Musical Romance's trainer, Bill Kaplan.
Groupie Doll is campaigned by her trainer and his father, Fred Bradley, who bred her in Kentucky, as well as co-owners Carl Hurst and Brent Burns.
"I want you to know I bred this horse. I bred this trainer too," Fred Bradley quipped. "It was a great thrill. We thought she was going to win all the way."
"I think it's very special in that sense," Buff Bradley smiled about running Groupie Doll with his dad. "My father is the one who got me into this, and he's the sire, that's right! I think it's very special for us to share a very special moment like this."
The chestnut filly ran third to Awesome Maria and Musical Romance in her respective seasonal openers, the Grade 3 Sabin and Grade 2 Inside Information, but has been unbeatable since. She is now 5-1-2 from eight starts this season, including scores in the aforementioned Madison, Grade 1 Humana Distaff, Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters and Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America in her last four.
Groupie Doll has finished worse than third only twice in her career and also owns a win in the Grade 3 Gardenia from last year. Her four stakes placings include last year's Grade 2 Raven Run and Charles Town Oaks, and she now boasts $1,587,850 in lifetime earnings to go along with a 16-9-3-2 scorecard.
"Now that we have done this people say we should sell, she is at her highest point for selling," Buff Bradley said when asked about future plans for Groupie Doll. "I get called a big dummy for this all the time. I've talked with my partners before this race and we would like to race her as long as she is healthy and bring her back next year because that's why we're in it.
"We will discuss our plans when she is retired, but at this point we hope to come back next year and run and maybe come back here as well."
Groupie Doll is out of the winning Silver Deputy mare Deputy Doll, who is a half-sister to dual stakes victor Russellthemussell, stakes-placed Slick Report and the dam of multiple Grade 2-placed stakes hero Aristotle. This is the same female family as Grade/Group 1 winners Rootentootenwooten and Prorutori; Grade 2 diva Ivanavinalot;, and Grade 3 scorers It's Tea Time and Kukulcan.
Groupie Doll's fourth dam is Floral Park, a stakes-winning half-sister to the dam of multiple champion Gallant Bloom as well as a full sister to Delaware and Ladies Handicap queen Flower Bowl, who is famous for producing Graustark and His Majesty.