Champion female sprinter Groupie Doll will be turned out with plans to target a fall racing campaign after trainer William "Buff" Bradley thought she appeared to be off her game in recent days at Gulfstream Park.
Bradley hopes to return the 5-year-old daughter of Bowman's Band to training in early May at Churchill Downs with plans to race in the fall. A recent veterinary exam of Groupie Doll found no injury or illness, but Bradley doesn't like what he sees in the mornings on the Gulfstream Park track from the three-time grade I winner.
Bradley, who also is a co-owner with his dad Fred, Carl Hurst, and Brent Burns, said the other three other owners have put the decision in his hands.
"I told them that I can't find anything but I just know her. And I know that she's not going the way I want her to go," Bradley said. "The vet couldn't find anything; we don't think there's anything seriously wrong with her. But we definitely want to give her some time and check her out; just kind of keep an eye on her."
Groupie Doll will be observed closely at Gulfstream for the next week or so while allowing a recent blast of cold weather in Kentucky to clear. After that, she will be shipped to the Bradley family's Indian Ridge Farm where on nice days she'll be turned out with retired grade I-winning gelding Brass Hat.
"We're not going to jeopardize her in any way by making her race," Bradley said. "She's worth good money in the breeding shed. But at the same time, we're all in it to race. We're excited about her. Everybody's good with this decision to give her more time. It's worked for our other horses, such as Brass Hat."
Groupie Doll won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (gr. I) on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park and then finished second, just a nose behind Stay Thirsty , against males in the Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I) Nov. 24 at Aqueduct. She received about a month off at the farm soon after that start.
She was shipped to Gulfstream Park Dec. 29 with tentative plans to begin her 2013 season there. She made three starts at the South Florida track last year as well as a December 2011 start there. But after her arrival this year, a blood test indicated illness and she missed several days of training. She has not had an official workout this year.
More recent blood tests have indicated she has returned to good health and Bradley said she is healthy, noting that her legs are cold and tight and all her joints passed flexion tests. Bradley believes some time off could be the best remedy.
"We're just going to leave her out for a bit and hopefully bring her back for the fall campaign. That's what we're going to look forward to now," Bradley said. "One thing my dad has always said is that time takes care of most (horse problems) if you do it the right way. So we're going to go with that—just give her a bit of time. We're not rushed for anything--nothing was ever set in stone."
Groupie Doll won five of nine starts last year. Besides the Filly & Mare Sprint, Groupie Doll also posted graded stakes victories in the Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I), Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. I), Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. II), and the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. II).
Bradley said it will be a shame not having a chance to defend such spring victories as the Madison and Humana Distaff, but said her fall schedule plans would be similar to last year. In fall 2012, Groupie Doll won the Presque Isle Downs Masters at Presque Isle and Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland before taking the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
"We were hoping to follow the same route as last year," Bradley said. "We'll still do that but the later part, probably the last half of it."