One of the feel-good stories of the 2012 World Championships, Groupie Doll returns to defend her title in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 2 off a 2013 season in some ways different and in other ways similar to her campaign last year.
Sent off the 7-10 favorite in last year's race at Santa Anita Park at seven furlongs, Groupie Doll rallied under Rajiv Maragh for a scintillating and emotional victory for trainer Buff Bradley and his father, Fred, who co-own the 5-year-old with Carl Hurst and Brent Burns. The winner's circle and post-race celebration included the wheelchair-bound Fred Bradley, who co-bred the champion mare with his son.
Trainer Bradley was pleased with the 11 post drawn by Groupie Doll Oct. 28, noting that with a 12-horse field there will be one horse to her outside. "She likes to be near the outside; it's a good spot," said Bradley, noting she was victorious while breaking from post 9 a year ago.
Groupie Doll, a daughter of Bowman's Band who has won or placed in 18 of 20 starts and earned $1,928,850, was rested for an extensive period ending her 2012 season with a second to males in the Cigar Mile (gr. I) following the Breeders' Cup. For her belated 2013 debut, Bradley went outside the playbook and took his mare to the one-mile Gardenia Stakes (gr. III) at Ellis Park, the Henderson, Ky., track that conducts its live meet in the summer.
Sent off at 1-5 odds, Groupie Doll stumbled at the start and had traffic problems before angling out for a late run that came up a length short of winner Devious Intent and runner-up Magic Hour. Following the Gardenia, Groupie Doll returned to the same two prep races she used with success in 2012: the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes and the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, both grade II.
At Presque Isle Downs and Casino, Groupie Doll showed the benefits of her Ellis Park prep by unleashing a drive on the outside to win the 6 1/2-furlong test by 1 1/2 lengths in record time on the all-weather Tapeta surface.
Though the Filly & Mare Sprint attracted 12 starters, only two of the other entrants competed in the race a year ago. Teddy's Promise, a 5-year-old daughter of Salt Lake, set the early pace in 2012 but eventually faded to finish eighth, a length in front of Great Hot, a Brazilian-bred who is also back this year.
Prominent among the new shooters is Susan H. Wantz' Dance to Bristol, the chestnut Speightstown filly whose victory in the Ballerina Stakes (gr. I) capped a seven-race win streak eventually snapped by a second in the Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II).
Gary and Mary West's homebred Book Review will be racing at the same distance and track where earlier this year the Giant's Causeway filly won the La Brea Stakes (gr. I). Trained by Bob Baffert, the 4-year-old has subsequently finished second in two grade II stakes, won the A Gleam Stakes (gr. II), and was second in Dance to Bristol's Ballerina at Saratoga Race Course.
Steve Beneto's Sweet Lulu has been nearly flawless in her five starts, with four wins and a second to her credit. A 3-year-old Mr. Greeley filly trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Sweet Lulu won her first four starts, including the grade I Test at Saratoga, before finishing second in the Cotillion Stakes (gr. I) behind Close Hatches, one of the leading contenders in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I).
|Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (gr. I) Nov 2 1:21 PM PT|
|1||Renee's Titan||Mario Gutierrez||Doug F. O'Neill||30-1|
|2||Book Review||Rafael Bejarano||Bob Baffert||6-1|
|3||Starship Truffles||Gary Stevens||Martin D. Wolfson||15-1|
|4||Dance Card||Joel Rosario||Kiaran P. McLaughlin||8-1|
|5||Teddy's Promise||Victor Espinoza||Ronald W. Ellis||6-1|
|6||Ismene||Mike Smith||William Spawr||20-1|
|7||Summer Applause||Javier Castellano||Chad C. Brown||12-1|
|8||Dance to Bristol||Xavier Perez||Ollie L. Figgins III||5-1|
|9||Judy the Beauty||John Velazquez||Wesley A. Ward||6-1|
|10||Great Hot||Chantal Sutherland||Antonio C. Avila||20-1|
|11||Groupie Doll||Rajiv Maragh||William Bradley||5-2|
|12||Sweet Lulu||Julien Leparoux||Jerry Hollendorfer||8-1|
Groupie Doll leaving the Santa Anita track at the Breeders' Cup: