Traffic? No problem. Close quarters? No sweat. At least, not if you're the ever professional Groupie Doll. Sent off as the heavy favorite in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, Groupie Doll settled into stride, unhurried early. Racing into the turn, she gained on the early leaders before being met by a 4 wide wall of horses exiting the turn. Did she or jockey Rajiv Maragh panic? Not a chance. The duo simply waited for Honey Chile, the early leader, and Newstouse, who stalked Honey Chile every step of the way in the early stages, to drift apart. With room to finally run, Groupie Doll stormed to the lead and never looked back, cruising to a 6 1/2 length victory and covering the 6 furlongs in 1:09.21.
Today's victory improved Groupie Doll's record to 7:4-1-2 for the year, increased her winning streak to 4, and, perhaps most importantly, stamped her as the favorite for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, a race for which she now has an automatic berth, next month.
Among Groupie Doll's dispatched foes was Emma's Encore, winner of the G1 Prioress Stakes. In that race, Emma's Encore beat highly regarded Agave Kiss and a very game Judy the Beauty. Doing so put her squarely on the Breeders' Cup radar, but since then, Emma's Encore has disappointed. Two weeks ago, she finished 6th in the G2 Gallant Bloom Handicap as the fourth choice, and today she finished second to last as the second choice.
Despite her two graded victories this year, I now consider Emma's Encore a toss out in the BC F&M Sprint. Meaning no offense to Agave Kiss, but the two fields Emma's Encore beat earlier in the year just cannot hold a candle to the fields she lost to in her last two starts. This leads me to believe that while Emma's Encore is a nice filly, she's just a cut below the division leaders.
The Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes was the last of four races in the Filly and Mare Sprint championship series. Groupie Doll earned a place in the starting gate next month with today's win. Also a part of the series were the G2 A Gleam Invitational Handicap, the G1 Ballerina Stakes, and the G2 Gallant Bloom Handicap, won by Switch, Turbulent Descent, and Dust and Diamonds respectively. Others expected to contest the Filly and Mare Sprint include last year's winner Musical Romance, Nicole H, Contested, and Sassy Image, among others.