While only two races appear to remain in her racing career, trainer William “Buff” Bradley
believes champion Groupie Doll
is poised to end her racing days in
The 5-year-old homebred
daughter of Bowman’s Band tuned up for a run in next Saturday’s
Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (Grade II) at Keeneland with a
four-furlong work in :48.20 Saturday at Churchill Downs.
The Keeneland race will be a
final prep for Groupie Doll’s bid for a second consecutive victory in
the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI) at seven
furlongs on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Exercise rider Jada Schlenk
was up as the reigning Eclipse Award Filly and Mare Sprint champion
breezed over a fast track in fractional times of :13, :25 and :36.60 and
galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.20.
The work ranked as the 11th-fastest of 66 at the distance on a busy morning at Churchill Downs.
“The work was very good,” Bradley said. “She galloped out good and strong all the way, and Jada said that she’s ready.”
The Keeneland race will be
only the third start of the year for Groupie Doll, who is owned by a
partnership that includes the trainer and his 82-year-old father, Fred Bradley, and William Hurst and Brent
Burns. She spent the early part of the year on the Bradley family
farm near Frankfort, Ky. after she seemed lethargic in her training
early in the year in Florida.
Groupie Doll returned to
competition with a third-place run in the Gardenia (GIII) at Ellis Park
in Henderson, Ky., a race she won as a 3-year-old in 2011, but returned
to form earlier this month with a second consecutive
victory in the Presque Isle Masters (GII) at Pennsylvania’s Presque Isle
Downs. She established a record of 1:08.36 for six furlongs with a
comfortable 1 ½-length victory over the track’s synthetic Tapeta
As good as Groupie Doll has
been over her past three seasons, Bradley sees daily evidence that his
star is still developing and maturing.
“I think I see a lot more in
her – maybe not in speed out here, but her mind,” he said. “Watching her
walk around the shedrow, she comes out of the stall and she’s on it.
She used to walk out of the stall and just
wander down the shedrow. No big deal, she’s just another horse.
“Now she’s kind of
like, ‘Hey, I’m the queen.’ She goes out with a presence. It’s good for
me to see her mentally develop that part of it.”
The homebred mare
and the best horse of Bradley’s career will not return to the family
farm when this year ends. She will be a headline attraction in
Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale and will pass
through the auction ring on the Tuesday after her Breeders’ Cup run.
acknowledged that it will be difficult to see Groupie Doll head to a new
home. But the decision is necessary for the future of the family farm
and all associated with it.
doesn’t mean that I’ll never think of her – I’ll think of her every day
of my life when she sells,” Bradley said. “I’ll guarantee
that I’ll go out there teary-eyed, and I’ll be sad and it’s gonna hurt,
but it’s the only thing that we can do.”
Since the news of Groupie
Doll’s impending appearance in the auction ring broke, Bradley has
received emails from fans who question how the family could possibly
part with a star that has done so much for their operation.
Another Bradley star – Grade I-winning gelding Brass Hat
– was retired to the farm after he completed his career with 10 wins in
40 races and earnings of $2,173,561. But Bradley said he and his father
have faced the same decision with Brass Hat if he had the prospect of a
career as a stallion. And they would have reached the same conclusion in
Brass Hat’s case.
“They don’t know the whole
story,” Bradley said of the critics. “They don’t know what I have to go
through at the farm and with my family. I have to take care of them
first. Groupie Doll is going to be taking care
of the rest of my horses, basically.”
And now, Groupie Doll will
attempt to take care of business next week at Keeneland and five weeks
later in the Breeders’ Cup. She will take a career record of 10-4-3 in
19 races and earnings of $1,908,850 with her
when she boards a van next Saturday for the hour-long ride to Keeneland
and the penultimate start of her career in the Thoroughbred Club of