Groupie Doll has not won a single race in 2013; clearly the Eclipse Award winning daughter of Bowman’s Band must have lost that certain something that carried her to be considered as good as any sprinter, either male or female, last season. Sure, and if you believe that, I have some lovely marshland property to sell you in the Everglades.
The champ will look to quickly reverse all the, “what’s wrong with the Doll,” talk when she headlines a full field of eleven in tomorrow’s Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters. The $400,000, 6 ½ furlong affair will be only Groupie Doll’s second race of the year, after an extended layoff, and will be the second of three races designed to have her at her ready best for an attempt to defend her Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint title.
Groupie Doll’s long anticipated return to the races was not quite what her legions of fans were hoping for, when she finished third in the August 10 Gardenia Stakes at Ellis Park. It was a disappointment, but on the other hand, the one-length defeat, after nearly nine months off, was far from a disgrace. A winner of 9-of-18 lifetime, and just a shade under $1.7 million in earnings, Groupie Doll has done nothing to shake the confidence of the man who knows her best.
“I predict the next 3 races will be huge from her, trainer and co-owner Buff Bradley told me recently. “I could not be happier with where she is now going into the Presque Isle race.
Making the assignment slightly simpler, will be her weight assignment at Presque Isle. To be ridden by her regular partner, Rajiv Maragh, while breaking from the number ten-post, the five-year-old defending champion of this race will only need to tote 112 pounds under the allowance conditions tomorrow. The quality of competition will be a clear upgrade from what Groupie Doll saw at Ellis Park last month, though.
Among the biggest of threats to the champ on Monday evening will be the fleet filly breaking just to the inside of the favorite. Judy the Beauty has never finished worse than second in her ten career starts, which includes three runner-up results in grade 1 racing. Entered in the Ballerina at Saratoga last month, she flipped in the gate and had to be scratched. Prior to the gate incident, the four-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper ran second behind Starship Truffles in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney at Calder. Further pointing out Judy the Beauty as a real threat to Groupie Doll is her perfect 3-for-3 record on synthetic surfaces.
While Judy the Beauty, and a few others in the Presque Isle Masters, are worthy competition, make no mistake, it’s time for the champ to do what champions do. I look for the Doll to return to her winning ways in true ‘Groupie Doll’ fashion tomorrow.