One year ago, Groupie Doll won the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly &
Mare Sprint before coming to Aqueduct Racetrack to face males for the
first time in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap. After taking the lead in
midstretch, Groupie Doll was tagged on the wire by Stay Thirsty, who got
up to win by a nose.
year, Groupie Doll, now 5 years old, is back in New York after having
won the Filly & Mare Sprint for a second straight year and selling
for $3.1 million at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. The
Cigar Mile, which will be contested Saturday at Aqueduct, will be her
first start for new owner Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm.
Cigar Mile has a base purse of $500,000, with extra purse incentives
for Breeders' Cup and Grade 1 winners. Groupie Doll and Breeders' Cup
Dirt Mile victor Goldencents will run for a gross purse of $1 million,
while Grade 1 winners Capo Bastone, Flat Out, Verrazano, and Private
Zone will run for a gross purse of $750,000.
Doll, voted the Champion Female Sprinter for 2012, belatedly opened her
2013 campaign by finishing third in the Grade 3 Gardenia at Ellis Park
before rebounding to take the Grade 2 Presque Isle Masters in September.
After reporting home third in the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America
in October at Keeneland, she repeated in the Breeders' Cup by sweeping
to the lead at the top of the stretch and holding off Judy the Beauty
and Dance Card to prevail by a half-length.
days after the Breeders' Cup, Groupie Doll went through the sales ring
at Keeneland and was acquired by breeder Mandy Pope. Trainer Buff
Bradley, who owned Groupie Doll in partnership with his father Fred
Bradley, Carl Hurst, and Brent Burns, said he talked to Pope immediately
after the Bowman's Band mare had sold about the possibility of running
her new acquisition in the Cigar Mile.
she sold, as soon as the press were finished I went to talk to [Pope],"
said Bradley. "I wanted to ask her if we'd be able to visit her at the
farm and to tell her I'd be happy to tell her anything she needed to
know about her. Then I told her that if she had thought about keeping
her in training that she could talk to me. She said she'd think about it
and I gave her my card, and the next day she called me and said she
wanted to run [in the Cigar Mile]. We were thrilled when she made that
decision; it's been a bonus for me and my team.
showed last year that she likes the track when she ran a huge race, and
even though she was going to the sale, I felt like I could have thrown
out the idea [of running in the Cigar Mile] to whoever might have bought
her," added Bradley. "It seemed like a sensible spot, and she'd be
eligible for the $1 million purse because she's a Breeders' Cup winner."
Doll has trained at Belmont Park for the Cigar Mile, turning in a pair
of four-furlong breezes over the training track. She was clocked in
48.61 seconds on November 16 and in 48.55 on November 25.
that she has run well at Aqueduct and that she's ready to go, we knew
it could be done," said Bradley. "It's going to be one of her toughest
tasks, but she has been training forwardly at Belmont, and all the signs
are she's going to run a big race."
Rajiv Maragh has the assignment aboard Groupie Doll, the 3-1 morning-line favorite, from post position 4.
Doug O'Neill has shipped a pair of Grade 1 winners from California to
New York for the Cigar Mile, including Goldencents, who employed a
front-running gambit from post 11 to take the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile by
2 ¾ lengths on November 1.
Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile was the second Grade 1 victory for W. C.
Racing, Dave Kenney, and RAP Racing's Goldencents, who captured the
Santa Anita Derby in April. After finishing 17th in the
Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Preakness, he has raced exclusively in
races for 3-year-olds and up at distances between six furlongs and one
finished second in his first three starts against older horses,
finishing a head behind Points Offthebench in Del Mar's six-furlong
Grade 1 Bing Crosby, one length behind Fed Biz in Del Mar's Grade 2 Pat
O'Brien, and a half-length behind Points Offthebench in the Grade 1
Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
the Breeders' Cup, Goldencents was sent to the lead by jockey Rafael
Bejarano from the outside, and the colt, after opening a five-length
lead in the stretch, held sway late to defeat late-running Golden
has the call once again aboard Goldencents, who drew post 8 and was
installed as the 7-2 second choice on the morning line.
Zone, imported from Panama by Good Friends Stable, won his first race
in the United States when he garnered the Pirate's Bounty restricted
stakes by a neck in September at Del Mar, then came to New York to take
the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational by the same margin later in the month.
In his most recent start, the front-runner dueled early before making a
steady retreat when 10th, beaten 6 ¼ lengths, in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint on November 2.
Martin Pedroza will pilot Private Zone, 15-1, from post 11.
Pletcher, a four-time winner of the Cigar Mile, has entered a
triumvirate of 3-year-olds in this year's race, led by Verrazano, who
won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial in April over the Aqueduct main track and
the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational in July at Monmouth Park.
romping by 9 ¾ lengths in the Haskell, Verrazano folded when seventh in
the Grade 1 Travers in August at Saratoga Race Course and raced evenly
in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile after finding himself in close quarters
on the first turn when fourth by 7 ¾ lengths.
just need him to run to his capabilities," said Pletcher of Verrazano,
owned by Let's Go Stable, Michael Tabor, John Magnier, and Derrick
Smith. "I still think his win in the Haskell was arguably the best race
by a 3-year-old this year. We need him to repeat the races he's capable
of running. Putting the Breeders' Cup behind us, I don't think he loved
the track. It's hard to gauge because he had such a rough trip going
into the first turn. The track was so speed-biased that day that it was
impossible to make up ground."
Castellano will ride Verrazano, 8-1 on the morning line, for the first
time in Cigar Mile. The More Than Ready colt drew post 10.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Capo Bastone rallied from 11th
and made up 15 lengths to prevail by two lengths and register a 28-1
upset in Saratoga's Grade 1 Foxwoods King's Bishop in August, his first
stakes victory. He enters the Cigar Mile off a last-of-13 performance in
the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint on November 2, his only start on
was an experiment that went wrong," Pletcher of the Breeders' Cup Turf
Sprint. "We felt like he'd handle the turf, but, unfortunately, he
didn't, so we've regrouped and gone back to his preferred surface. If he
can repeat his King's Bishop performance, it gives him a big chance."
Bastone, 20-1, drew post 6 and will be reunited with Irad Ortiz, Jr.,
who rode the Street Boss colt to victory in the Foxwoods King's Bishop.
Tales has raced once at a mile, winning the Grade 3 Derby Trial by a
neck over Capo Bastone in April at Churchill Downs. He added wins in the
Grade 2 Woody Stephens presented by NYRA Rewards in June at Belmont and
the Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga before his three-race winning streak
came to an end with a fourth in the Foxwoods King's Bishop.
that race, Forty Tales raced twice against older horses in the fall at
Belmont, finishing fourth in the Vosburgh in September and second by 1 ½
lengths to Clearly Now in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap on October
thought he ran really well in the Bold Ruler," said Pletcher. "He broke
more alertly than he normally does, and he sort of made three different
runs during the course of the race, which is always hard to do. I think
his preferred running style is to settle behind a fast pace and make
one run, so this race could set up that way for him."
Forty Tales, 10-1, will leave from post 2 with Joel Rosario in the irons.
Now will face Forty Tales once again in the Cigar Mile. In the
seven-furlong Bold Ruler, Clearly Now tracked favored Strapping Groom to
the top of the stretch, quickly overhauled the leader once given his
cue, and was never seriously threatened by Forty Tales' late challenge.
The Bold Ruler was Clearly Now's first start wearing blinkers.
seems to be getting better and has improved with blinkers," said Brian
Lynch, who trains Clearly Now for Up Hill Stable. "He ran a great race
the other day [in the Bold Ruler], and he got a great ride [from Jose
Lezcano has the return assignment aboard Clearly Now, who will leave from post 3 as the 5-1 third choice on the morning line.
Stables' Flat Out, a two-time winner of the Grade 1, 1 ¼-mile Jockey
Club Gold Cup Invitational and of the Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile Suburban
Handicap, demonstrated he can be just as sharp at one mile when he made a
pair of starts during this year's spring/summer meet at Belmont. The
7-year-old wore down Cross Traffic to win the Grade 3 Westchester by a
head in April and was third in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap after
being caught in traffic on the turn.
taking Belmont's Suburban Handicap by 2 ½ lengths in July, Flat Out
missed by just a head when second to Alpha in the Grade 1 Woodward in
August at Saratoga and was a distant third in his attempt to win the
Jockey Club Gold Cup for a third straight year in September at Belmont.
He enters the Cigar Mile off an eighth, beaten 9 ¾ lengths, in the Grade
1 Breeders' Cup Classic on November 2 and has been training at Payson
Park in Florida.
think he's able to be effective at a mile," said Hall of Fame trainer
Bill Mott of Flat Out. "I hope he runs his 'A' race in the Cigar Mile.
If he repeats [his Westchester performance], then maybe he'll get a big
piece of it. We were thinking about running in the Cigar Mile before the
Breeders' Cup and had discussed not running in the Breeders' Cup and
waiting for the Cigar Mile, but it turns out he's going to run in them
both. He looks great, has a nice coat, and has had a couple of nice
Flat Out, 6-1, will leave from post 9 with Junior Alvarado at the helm.
Cigar Mile will be the second start on dirt around one turn for Laugh
Track, whose rally came up a neck short when second to Secret Circle in
the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint on November 2. Previously, his only
other start on dirt was a fifth in the Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile Alysheba in
May at Churchill Downs.
the Alysheba, Laugh Track competed twice in sprints on synthetic
surfaces, winning the Grade 3 Vigil at Woodbine in June and finishing
second in the Grade 3 Phoenix in October at Keeneland.
Hall of Famer Mike Smith has the call aboard Laugh Track, tabbed at 12-1, from post 5.
Snacks, a three-time stakes winner against New York-breds for owner
Bill Parcells, will make his graded stakes debut in the Cigar Mile.
He'll be cutting back in distance after winning the 1 1/8-mile Empire
Classic Handicap on October 19 at Belmont Park.
Jose Ortiz will ride Saratoga Snacks, 12-1, for the first time in the Cigar Mile. The 4-year-old ridgling drew post 7.
Completing the field is Praetereo, who rolled home to a 5 ¾-length score in an optional claimer on November 8 at the Big A.