No excuses for Groupie Doll
HER most recent loss came with a ready-made excuse, but if Groupie Doll somehow gets beaten as she defends her title today in the Presque Isle Downs Masters, well, things might be a little harder to explain. Trainer Buff Bradley said from his Churchill Downs base that he certainly hopes to avoid that discomfiting position.
Bradley said he has been very satisfied with Groupie Doll as the 2012 distaff sprint champion prepared to make her second start of 2013 in the US$400,000 Masters (gr.II) at the Pennsylvania track.
“I think she’s going into this really well,” he said. “She’s had two good half-mile works since her race at Ellis (Park) and galloped out real strong. Everything is good going in.”
Groupie Doll, with Rajiv Maragh booked, will break from post 10, while her chief threat, Judy the Beauty, will break inside her in post nine with David Flores aboard. Groupie Doll has been pegged as the morning-line 6/5 favourite in a field of 11.
In her first start in more than eight months, Groupie Doll finished third as the heavy 1/5 favourite in the August 10 Gardenia Stakes at Ellis Park (Kentucky). Her overall record is nine wins from 18 starts, with earnings of US$1,668,850.
The Masters is at 6 1/2 furlongs on the Tapeta synthetic surface. Last year, Groupie Doll rolled to a 3 3/4-length victory in the Masters amid a five-race win streak that ended with a romp in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
Bradley, who owns the five-year-old chestnut mare with his father Fred, and with Brent Burns and Carl Hurst, has mapped out an identical end-of-year plan for her, with the next starts coming in the October 5 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland and the November 1 BC Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita.
Judy the Beauty, owned and trained by Wesley Ward, was scratched from the August 23 Ballerina at Saratoga when she acted up at the starting gate.
“Maybe that was a blessing since she didn’t get seriously hurt,” Ward said. “I wouldn’t have been able to run back so quick in this, so maybe we’ll get lucky.”
Ontario-bred Judy the Beauty has four wins and six seconds from 10 starts. The speedy filly is unbeaten in three races over synthetic. Under allowance conditions, Groupie Doll will carry only 112 pounds, and Judy the Beauty totes 115. The weights range from 110 to 118 for the others.