Champion Groupie Doll tuned up for a scheduled start in the $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes (gr. III) with a sharp five-furlong breeze at Gulfstream Park the morning of Jan. 18.
Preparing for the final outing of her career in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint for fillies and mares Feb. 9 at Gulfstream, Groupie Doll was clocked in :59 4/5 with a last quarter of a mile in just a shade over :23.
The reigning female champion sprinter, the favorite to repeat for the same honor at the Jan. 18 Eclipse Awards ceremony, galloped out six furlongs in 1:12 1/5 under exercise rider Jada Schlenk.
"She had three horses in front of her, and she caught them and Jada never moved on her," trainer Buff Bradley said. "I told Jada, 'Start her out easy and finish.' I kinda' wanted her to put in a strong work either this week or next week. I wanted to see how she did this week and then I could adjust it for next week. I was glad to see her breeze as strong as she did."
Bradley confirmed that the Hurricane Bertie, on the same day as the Donn Handicap (gr. I), will be the final race in a career that includes back-to-back victories in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I).
"She's going to run here. It makes sense. She's training here and she loves it," Bradley said.
Bred by Bradley and his father, Fred, Groupie Doll has won 11 of 22 starts, four grade I stakes, and $2.5 million in purses. Following her second Breeders' Cup victory, the 6-year-old daughter of Bowman's Band was purchased by Mandy Pope for $3.1 million at the Keeneland November Sale from Bradley and his father, Carl Hurst and Brent Burns. Pope has booked Groupie Doll to be bred to Tapit following the Hurricane Bertie.
Groupie Doll has run once since being purchased by Pope, finishing a troubled fourth against males at Aqueduct Racetrack Nov. 30 in the Cigar Mile (gr. I)—a race she missed by a nose to Stay Thirsty in 2012. The Hurricane Bertie will afford the champion mare a chance to go out with a win.
"We're really excited about where she is at this point," Bradley said.