Groupie Doll Breezes Half Mile for Cigar Mile
Reigning champion female sprinter Groupie Doll breezed a half mile Nov. 16 on the Belmont Park training track as she prepares for her second career start against males in the Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I) Nov. 30 at Aqueduct.
With exercise rider Jada Schlenk aboard, the 5-year-old mare went out onto Belmont's training track shortly after the renovation break at 7:45 a.m. EST. As a light rain fell, Groupie Doll sailed through four furlongs in 48.61, her first timed workout since scoring her second straight victory in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (gr. I).
The move was the 15th fastest of 79 at the distance.
"She breezed really well," said trainer William "Buff" Bradley. "She went the first eighth in :12 2/5, finished up really well and galloped out strong, too, in 1:01 3/5. Jada said 'perfect' which is pretty good for me. She wasn't even breathing hard when she got back."
Groupie Doll will be making her first start for new owner Mandy Pope, who recently paid $3.1 million for the daughter of Bowman's Band at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
Groupie Doll, second by a nose to Stay Thirsty in last year's Cigar Mile, will be competing for a $1 million purse in the Cigar Mile by virtue of a special incentive provided by The New York Racing Association for past Breeders' Cup winners.
"She'll most likely breeze another half-mile next Sunday, and that will be it," said Bradley.
Godolphin Racing's Alpha remains under consideration for the Cigar Mile after breezing four furlongs on the Belmont training track Saturday. It was his first workout since an eighth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park.
With exercise rider Carlos Rosillo aboard, Alpha worked inside of Long River and finished about a head behind his workmate, completing the distance in :48.14.
"He breezed very well; we're happy with the breeze," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "He galloped out well, and all systems are 'go' for the Cigar Mile."
With Groupie Doll and Goldencents part of the provisional Cigar Mile field, McLaughlin said he will track Alpha's progress before he fully commits the 4-year-old to the race.
"We're going to keep our options open because (the race) is coming up tough, but we're pointing that way," said McLaughlin. "We're happy with him, he likes New York; he doesn't ship well, so we're pointing to the Cigar Mile, even though it's coming up tough."
Trainer Gary Sciacca reported that Empire Classic winner Saratoga Snacks emerged from his Nov. 15 workout in good order and remains possible for the Cigar Mile, which would be his first graded stakes start.
"He's doing well," said Sciacca of the New York-bred, who breezed a half-mile in 48.22, second fastest of 51 works at the distance on the training track. "I was happy with the way he did it. The race is coming up really tough, so we'll have to discuss it further before we make a decision."
Also listed as probable for the Cigar Mile by NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes are Foxwoods King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) hero Capo Bastone; Verrazano , winner of the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) at Aqueduct; Clearly Now, who took the Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) last time out; and multiple graded stakes winner Forty Tales , most recently second in the Bold Ruler.
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