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HRN Original Blog:
Past the Grandstand

2013 Breeders' Cup Highlights: Groupie Doll and Mizdirection

Mizdirection repeats in the BC Turf Sprint!
Photo: Don August

 

Please enjoy the sixth installment of my “2013 Breeders’ Cup Highlights” series, which features the greatest personal moments of my Breeders’ Cup experience.


Highlight Six: Groupie Doll and Mizdirection 

 

An abundance of past Breeders’ Cup champions returned to the championships in 2013. Whereas some were abandoning the juvenile division to seek victory against older horses, many were seeking defenses of their titles. Five of these horses were successful in their repeat attempts: Wise Dan in the Mile, Mizdirection in the Turf Sprint, Groupie Doll in the Filly & Mare Sprint, and Beholder and Secret Circle in their advancement from the juvenile ranks to the Distaff and Sprint, respectively. These repeat winners were among the most popular of Breeders’ Cup weekend, but two of them were also some of the most bittersweet moments of the championships.


Both Groupie Doll and Mizdirection, the female sprinting stars of American racing, were slated to sell just days after their Breeders’ Cup efforts. No longer would they be with their popular connections – Buff Bradley and Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing, respectively. These Breeders’ Cup title defenses would serve as likely their last starts for these connections. This, combined with seeking repeat victories on racing’s biggest stage, made the pressure high as the fantastic mares went to post.


Groupie Doll


The prevalent thought surrounding Groupie Doll was that the daughter of Bowman’s Band was not the same horse she had been the previous year. In 2012, Groupie Doll had captured four consecutive graded stakes races prior to running away with the Filly & Mare Sprint by 4 ½ lengths as the heavy favorite. But after a layoff of nearly nine months, Groupie Doll began to make it seem as if she had lost a step.


After losing her return in the Gardenia Stakes (gr. III), Groupie Doll gave racing fans hope when she captured the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. II) in track record style. However, a lackluster third in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. II) in her final start before the Breeders’ Cup erased much of that hope.


Nonetheless, Groupie Doll remained number one in the hearts of racing fans. She returned to Santa Anita Park in hopes of becoming the first two-time victress of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I). Again sent off as the favorite, Groupie Doll initially raced widest of all down the backstretch as she settled into a position mid-pack. As the field neared the far turn, Groupie Doll inched closer to the vanguard, continuing to race several paths off the rail.


Advancing to third around the bend, Groupie Doll grew even with Teddy’s Promise inside the quarter pole. Gaining the lead as the field turned for home, Groupie Doll was asked by jockey Rajiv Maragh for all she had. Although a clear leader down the lane, the late rallies of Judy the Beauty and Dance Card threatened her lead. But Groupie Doll dug deep, displaying the heart that so many had come to love her for as she held off the charge of Judy the Beauty to score by a half-length.


Mizdirection


One race later, Mizdirection looked to continue the trend of repeat wins. Just as she had the previous year, she was entering the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. I) off a lengthy layoff. But unlike 2012, Mizdirection loaded into the starting gate as the favorite, carrying the pressure of an undefeated record over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course and, most importantly, a Breeders’ Cup title defense.


The gray/roan daughter of Mizzen Mast sat off the blistering pace with regular rider Mike Smith – who already had a pair of 2013 Breeders’ Cup triumphs to his credit – aboard. She remained in this spot as the horses raced down the hill, galloping on the outside. Mizdirection set her sight on the front as the field crossed over the main track, beginning to unleash her rally just as Reneesgotzip appeared to be drawing away.


Her athletic strides ate up the ground, carrying her closer to the lead. As she powered down the center of the track, there was a certain aura of the large crowd gathered at Santa Anita; it was as if most of the crowd was cheering for Mizdirection, hoping she would cross the wire in front for the second consecutive year.


And she did. With her trademark determination, the mare passed her adversaries in the final stages of the race in thrilling fashion, edging clear by a half-length.



Both mares received warm welcomes from the thousands of spectators gathered at the Great Race Place when they returned to the winner’s circle after their triumphs. Fans cheered, shouting out the mares’ names and congratulating the connections. For the second year in a row, the spectacular sprinters donned yellow and purple Breeders’ Cup garlands of flowers, their nostrils flaring as a large group of photographers captured photos of them in the winner’s circle. As the majority of the connections remained near the winner’s enclosure for the formal winning ceremony, the mares returned to the barn, sweaty and exhausted from their efforts but also confident. They strutted alongside their handler, their necks arched. They knew they were winners.


Only hours after their victories, the mares boarded the star-studded first flight back to Kentucky, which carried three repeat Breeders’ Cup winners: Groupie Doll, Mizdirection, and Wise Dan. Groupie Doll and Mizdirection were both slated to sell at Kentucky’s premier fall mixed sales.


Just two days after repeating in the Turf Sprint, Mizdirection entered the sales ring at the Fasig-Tipton grounds in Lexington, Kentucky for the Fasig-Tipton Fall Mixed Sale. As her athletic frame graced the auction auditorium, the bidding rose quickly before slowing as the fall of the hammer grew nearer. For a final bid of $2,700,000, Mizdirection was sold to Sheikh Joaan Al Thani’s Qatar-based Al Shaqab Racing. The much-loved Mizdirection had departed the American racing scene in such a brisk manner, but she went out with style.


Two days later, Groupie Doll was offered at the nearby Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. Before a nearly full auditorium at Keeneland, Groupie Doll stood under the bright lights shining over the sales ring, remaining serene as she gazed at the unique sight before her. The bidding reached seven digits in no time at all, but Groupie Doll stayed indifferent as the price escalated. The bidding stopped at $3,100,000 – a price that made Groupie Doll the second-highest-priced horse of the entire sale. Who signed the ticket? None other than Mandy Pope, the same woman who had purchased Havre de Grace for $10,000,000 and Plum Pretty for $4,200,000 the previous year. To the delight of racing fans, it was announced that Groupie Doll would make at least one more start, which will take place against males in the Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct on November 30.


While racing fans have little to no time left to enjoy the racing careers of Groupie Doll and Mizdirection, they have a plethora of memories that the brilliant mares have left us with to cherish. With four Breeders’ Cup victories between them, Groupie Doll and Mizdirection are certainly among the most brilliant sprinting females the United States has seen in recent years. The only two-time champions of their respective Breeders’ Cup divisions, these mares will not only go down in history, but will also always have a special place in the hearts of racing fans.

 

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Older Comments about 2013 Breeders' Cup Highlights: Groupie Doll and Mizdirection...

Two terrific mares for sure. I was a fan of Groupie Doll since her debut, so that is where my allegiance lies, but I have huge respect for Mizdirection. Beating males two years in a row is no small task.

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About Mary Cage

 

Mary Cage, an 18-year-old avid fan of horse racing, has been around horses all her life, having owned, shown, and judged them for as long as she can remember. She began writing her own horse racing blog, Past the Grandstand, in August 2011 and has since been published with the BloodHorse's website, the American Quarter Horse Association's magazine "America's Horse", and Southern Racehorse Magazine. Blogging about the sport of horse racing combines her love for horse racing and writing. In her personal horse experience, she has won several horse judging contests at major stock shows and, in the show ring, is a Texas 4-H State Champion and Appaloosa Youth World Championship Show Top Ten finalist. 

 

Mary has always aspired to have a career with horses and since her love for horse racing began, she has dreamed of pursuing a career in the Thoroughbred racing industry, possibly as a writer. With this blog, she hopes to show readers horse racing through the eyes of a young fan as she writes about assorted horse racing topics.