A catchy name. Distinctive running style. The right connections. Quirky physical attribute. Talent. Personality. Intangibles. All factor into the elusive concept of charisma. One either has it or doesn't.
Groupie Doll has it.
Visitors flock to Indian Ridge Farm near Frankfort, Ky., to watch her frolic with her paddock partner Brass Hat in between stints at the track. Fans hold up signs identifying themselves as "Groupie Doll Groupies." And racetrackers marvel at how a modestly bred mare (Bowman's Band--Deputy Doll) who is such a sweetheart around the barn transforms into a relentless running machine when the gates open.
Groupie Doll wasn't perfect in 2012. In fact, she dropped her first three decisions of the season, albeit one against boys, one against Awesome Maria and Royal Delta, and one to reigning female sprint champion Musical Romance. But after trainer William "Buff" Bradley added blinkers for April's Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. I), Groupie Doll was virtually unbeatable, reeling off five consecutive victories by an average margin of five lengths before being pipped on the wire in the Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I). Her 4 1/2-length demolition of nine foes in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita cemented her championship.
"Brass Hat was our entry to the big time," said octogenarian Fred Bradley, who co-bred and co-owns Groupie Doll with his son the trainer (Carl Hurst and Brent Burns are also co-owners). "We love Brass Hat (grade I winner of more than $2.1 million), but Groupie Doll has been the culmination of the whole trip. I go down to the paddock and pet them all the time and watch them run and play together."
Groupie Doll won five of her nine starts as a 4-year-old in 2012, with two seconds and a pair of thirds, hauling in nearly $1.4 million.
After the Vinery Madison, Groupie Doll came center stage in the Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I) on Derby Day at Churchill Downs, winning the seven-furlong test by 7 1/4 lengths. She added the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. II) and the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. II) before the Breeders' Cup.
"Everywhere I go, she's the topic of conversation," said Fred Bradley. "She is a lover; a good horse all the way around, and we love her."