Groupie Doll, who barely missed in the Lexus Raven Run (gr. II) last fall at Keeneland, broke through in a big way April 12 when she returned to Lexington to win the $300,000 Vinery Madison (gr. I) (VIDEO) by three lengths.
Fred and Buff Bradley bred and co-own the 4-year-old daughter of Bowman’s Band, who wore blinkers to notch her first grade I victory at odds of 7-2. The filly was third in her last two graded stakes starts on the Gulfstream Park dirt, but clearly appreciated the return to Polytrack.
“(Groupie Doll) is another horse that we bred," said Buff Bradley. "It’s really special with my father, and we’ve got a couple of other partners in on her. It’s nice.”
Bradley said he thought the addition of blinkers would help Groupie Doll. "She trained very well in them and very aggressive, so we went on and did that,” he said of the switch.
With Rajiv Maragh aboard, the chestnut filly moved four-wide into contention coming off the turn and overtook Whipsaw City before reaching the eighth pole. Despite drifting out, she had plenty left to hold off a late bid by 20-1 runner-up She's Cheeky and Robby Albarado. Ariana D was third, 6 1/2 lengths behind the winner, followed by 9-5 favorite Musical Romance.
“I got a good outside post and just tried to get her involved in the race without doing too much early," Maragh said. "After that, she just finished really strong. She finished with a lot of power. She was long gone by the eighth pole.”
The final time for seven furlongs was 1:23.76.
The early pace was set by Home Sweet Aspen, who was forced to go from the rail and sped through an opening quarter-mile in :22.67. Whipsaw City and Julien Leparoux made a bold move approaching the turn to take the lead (half-mile in :46.32) and turned the corner with the advantage. But it was short-lived as Groupie Doll had moved into contention and was ready to pounce.
Buff Bradley also trains Groupie Doll. Bred and raised on the family’s Indian Ridge Farm near Frankfort, Ky., the filly is out of the Silver Deputy mare Deputy Doll.
Groupie Doll won the first three starts of her career in 2011, including the Gardenia Stakes (gr. III) at Ellis Park. She came with a strong late run in the Raven Run last October but missed by a head to Great Hot in her Keeneland debut. After finishing second in an optional claimer at Gulfstream in her 2012 debut in January, she ran third in both the Feb. 25 Sabin (gr. III) and March 17 Inside Information (gr. II).
The Madison victory improved Groupie Doll’s record to 5-3-2 from 12 starts and earnings of $488,756.
The winner paid $9.80, $4.80, and $4.20. The exacta (8-7) with 20-1 She's Cheeky returned $131.40. The trifecta (8-7-9) was worth $986.20.
“She did fine," said Bill Kaplan, Musical Romance's trainer and co-owner. "She’s a filly that sometimes we have a little problem getting her to relax and she fought early which you don’t like to do but (jockey Juan Leyva) had no choice. That’s basically what it is. He said she never got off the bit the whole race until it was too late.”