Champion female sprinter Groupie Doll zipped through four furlongs the morning of July 5 at Churchill Downs, earning a bullet with a :47 1/5 drill with jockey Leandro Goncalves in the irons.
Trainer Buff Bradley was pleased to report the 5-year-old daughter of Bowman's Band is on track for a late start to the 2013 season in either the Aug. 23 Ballerina Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course, or the Sept. 9 Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. II) at Presque Isle Downs. Groupie Doll missed the first half of the year after failing to thrive in training during the winter at Gulfstream Park.
"She worked really well; just started out nice and easy and finished strong," Bradley said. "Leandro never moved on her and she galloped out very strong; he was very impressed and thought he was going about :49. The clocker texted me 'she's back' and gave me the splits and I said, 'Yeah, I didn't think she was going that fast either.' She just gets her stride going—she wasn't out of control or running off—she just gets in that cruising speed and naturally goes that fast."
Groupie Doll strung together victories in the Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. I), the Humana Distaff (gr. I), the Presque Isle Downs Masters (gr. II), the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. II), and the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) last year before ending her season with a thrilling runner-up finish a nose behind Stay Thirsty in the Cigar Mile (gr. I). 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.
"Turned out with Brass Hat the last couple weeks, we thought she was getting a little more aggressive towards him, just running around more like she really wanted to get out and do something," Bradley said. "You never know about the fillies and mares, if they're going to want to come back and race again. I knew physically she was doing really well, but mentally I wanted to see her on her game. I think she is turned on right now, and I'm glad to see it."
Groupie Doll's first work back off the lay-up was also strong, a bullet three furlongs in :35 4/5 under jockey John McKee at Churchill June 29.
"I know we've done a lot of groundwork and prepping her to get her to her breezes, and I know she's fit thanks in part to Brass Hat," Bradley said. "There's no doubt in my mind that he helped; they did a lot of running in the field. I'm not trying to work her fast, so I'm very happy she's doing it the way she's doing it, and that she seems so happy when she's doing it. Leandro couldn't say enough good things about her. He said she felt great, was strong all the way, and wanting to do it, and you love to see that."
Bradley said he is still weighing the pros and cons of the Ballerina, a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race for the Filly & Mare Sprint division, versus the Masters. The Ballerina is run at seven furlongs over Saratoga's dirt oval while the Masters is 6 1/2 on Tapeta; Groupie Doll won the latter in 2012 by 3 3/4 lengths in a driving rainstorm.
"Going to Presque Isle is half the trip (compared to New York) so it's not as hard on her, and I know she likes the track," he said. "Everything went very well with her last year with her last three races in the fall pointing toward our ultimate goal of the Breeders' Cup; it seemed like she really liked the timing of those, and I don't want to mess her up in that sense.
"But the Ballerina's still a consideration because it's a 'Win and You're In' race, and $500,000 compared to $400,000 at Presque Isle. I'm a little more favorable to go to Presque Isle right now but I still have a lot of people wanting me to go to New York, so we'll see as we get a little closer."
Bradley co-owns Groupie Doll with his father, Fred, and Carl Hurst and Brent Burns. She was bred in Kentucky by the Bradleys out of the Silver Deputy mare Deputy Doll and has a 9-4-2 record from 17 starts with earnings of $1,657,850. Of her nine wins, six have been in graded stakes races.