Groupie Doll is seeking to become a coast-to-coast phenomenon in the Cigar, which is carded as race eight on a 10-race card with an approximate local post time of 3:20 p.m. EST. The 4-year-old daughter of Bowman's Band won the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park, her fifth consecutive victory and third grade I tally of the season.
Groupie Doll, with nine wins from 16 career starts and $1,587,850 racing for the Bradleys, Carl Hurst, and Brent Burns, is a lock to win the Eclipse Award for filly and mare sprinters this year. She began her victory streak for trainer Buff Bradley with a win in the Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. I) last April at Keeneland. She followed that up with a 7 1/4-length win in the Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, then took a pair of grade II contests before the Breeders’ Cup—the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes and the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, the latter run at Keeneland this fall.
Before shortening up for those sprints, she won twice at a mile, both last season in the Gardenia Stakes (gr. III) at Ellis Park and an allowance/optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park.
Groupie Doll is picking on a tough cast, however, that will make her earn whatever she gets at Aqueduct. Trainer Bob Baffert is shipping multiple grade I winner Coil across the country after the 4-year-old ran unplaced in the Nov. 3 Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr .I). The son of Point Given won the Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (gr. I) in October, and last season took the Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I) by a head over classic winner Shackleford. Coil races for Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman and was assigned highweight of 120 pounds in the seven-horse field.
A third Breeders’ Cup participant, Charles Fipke’s Jersey Town, will also join the party at Aqueduct. A fifth-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I), 6-year-old Jersey Town is scheduled to take up stallion duty at John Phillips’ Darby Dan Farm near Lexington after the Cigar Mile. In September he won the Kelso Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park going a mile for his lone victory this season, but Jersey Town won the Cigar Mile in 2010. The hard-knocking son of Speightstown has won six of 21 starts and nearly $820,000 under the direction of Barclay Tagg.
Stuart Janney III’s homebred Hymn Book enters the Cigar Mile off a victory in the Frank “Poncho” Martin Stakes at Belmont Oct. 19. The 6-year-old gelded son of Arch won the grade I Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in his first start of 2012. He finished second to Mucho Macho Man in the July 7 Suburban Handicap (gr. II), and will be shortening back to a mile for the first time since finishing as runner-up in last year’s Cigar Mile to To Honor and Serve. Hymn Book is a four-time stakes winner and earner of nearly $800,000. He is trained by Shug McGaughey.
Buffum, a 4-year-old Bernardini colt, steps up to grade I company for the first time and comes in off a victory in the Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont Oct. 27 for trainer Tom Albertrani and Godolphin Racing. He will need to run the race of his life to beat this field but is beautifully bred out of the Storm Cat mare Storm Beauty.
Veteran Stay Thirsty looks to get to the winner’s circle for the first time this year, although his last effort was a good second-place finish just a head behind Flat Out in the Sept. 29 TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont. Another Bernardini colt, Stay Thirsty enjoyed his best season a year ago when he won the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr.II) and Travers Stakes (gr. I) in succession at Saratoga. He was also second in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) behind Ruler on Ice. The 4-year-old will be shortening up to a mile, a distance he has never tried before for trainer Todd Pletcher. He has banked more than $1.7 million.
$350,000 Cigar Mile H. (gr. I, Race 8, 3:20 p.m. ET), 3 & Up PP., Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Stay Thirsty, R. Dominguez, 118, T A Pletcher
2. Associate, J. Velazquez, 115, R E Dutrow Jr. 3. Buffum, E. Castro, 116, T Albertrani 4. Jersey Town, J. Castellano, 117, B Tagg 5. Hymn Book, J. Rosario, 117, C R McGaughey III 6. Coil, M. Garcia, 120, B Baffert 7. Groupie Doll, R. Maragh, 118, W Bradley