Groupie Doll eyes Cigar Mile

Groupie Doll, acquired by Mandy Pope's Whispering Hill Farm Nov. 6 at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, will remain in training for the time being with her longtime conditioner, Buff Bradley.

"I'm very excited," said Bradley by phone following the Nov. 8 announcement. "My whole team is excited. It means so much to all of us to be able to race this champion again."

Pope, who spent $3.1 million on the Eclipse Award-winning female sprinter and two-time Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner, made the announcement in a press release Nov. 8. She said the 5-year-old Groupie Doll, a daughter of Bowman's Band, would shoot for the Cigar Mile Nov. 30 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

"When I purchased Groupie Doll, my sole intention was for her to be retired and become a mom," Pope said. "However, after spending time with her and speaking with her previous connections, I felt that she may still want to run a few more races.

"I asked Dr. Larry Bramlage go over her from her nose to her tail and he felt there was no reason for her career to end now," Pope added. "Everyone who has been around Groupie Doll says she is rounding into the best form of her career and I feel the racing public deserves to see superstars run so long as they are happy and 100% sound."

The mare has arrived in New York and is resting comfortably after her eventful past couple of weeks, which included a stirring repeat win in the Filly & Mare Sprint Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park prior to her sale. Groupie Doll was second in last year's Cigar Mile, losing by a nose to Stay Thirsty. She has had a light campaign in 2013, winning two of four starts.

"To insure that Groupie Doll continues to receive the exact same care and attention to which she is accustomed, I have made the decision that Buff Bradley and his team will oversee the remainder of her racing career," Pope said. "It is only right that he continue as her trainer and I am delighted and honored that Buff has agreed to share this exciting time with me."

Bradley, who co-bred Groupie Doll with his father, Fred, and was part of the former ownership group, was on his way to New York to oversee Groupie Doll when the announcement was made.

"Mandy says she wants to keep everything the same with Groupie Doll," he said. "We're very honored that she has done this. We've spoken several times with her since the sale and I'm confident we're all on the same page with this mare.

"We're looking mostly at the Cigar Mile, and I think she will decide then what's next."

Bradley said he believed Pope's decision was influenced by the warm reception Groupie Doll received at the Keeneland sales ring.

"She met with a lot of her fans and she knows just how much this mare means to them," he said.

As for the Cigar Mile, where she will meet a strong field of males expected to include Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents, Bradley said Groupie Doll is at the top of her game.

"Absolutely, I've said that all along," he said. "She's as good as she's ever been. It's just a great honor to have her back in our stable."