With owner Mandy Pope on hand, two-time champion Groupie Doll breezed Feb. 2 at Gulfstream Park & Casino in preparation for her final career start in the Feb. 9 Hurricane Bertie Stakes (gr. III). Gulfstream Park announced the purse for the race will be increased $50,000 to $200,000 if Groupie Doll runs.
Regular exercise rider Jada Schlenk was aboard as the daughter of Bowman's Band worked four furlongs in :48 1/5 in preparation for the 6 1/2-furlong, $150,000 Hurricane Bertie. The Buff Bradley-trained mare galloped out five-eighths of a mile in 1:02.
"She looked great, finished up strong and galloped out good," said Bradley, who bred the daughter of Bowman's Band in partnership with his father, Fred, and campaigned her with his father and longtime clients Carl Hurst and Brent Burns before selling her to Pope for $3.1 million at last year's Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
"She's amazing," Schlenk said. "I had to get her off the rail because she wasn't handling it. She went in the three-path the whole way and at the quarter pole she took off on her own. I didn't have to ask her. She's amazing."
"I'm very excited and looking forward to it. I hope it's going to be a lot of fun for us and all the fans and people here," Pope said of Groupie Doll's final race, after which she will be sent to be bred to the Gainesway Farm stallion Tapit . "I know she'll put on a good performance. She just needs a little luck and for things to go right."
On the morning of Feb. 2 Pope recalled the fall of 2011 when a filly she owned, Funny Sunny, was among 11 entries in the Lexus Raven Run Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland Race Course, along with Groupie Doll.
"I had noticed her before and I remember saying, 'This one doesn't have any pedigree. We can beat her,'" recalled Pope of the Keeneland race in which Groupie Doll finished second and Funny Sunny ran sixth. "Such was not the case. Mine ended up being retired and this one went on to do fairly well."