Archive for January, 2013

O’Neill employing tough love with He’s Had Enough

Doug O’Neill is experiencing the same rite of passage – albeit a fun one – any trainer fortunate enough to saddle a Kentucky Derby winner endures. Now that the California-based trainer has proven he can get a still-developing sophomore to hit his best stride on the biggest day, he is going to constantly be asked to compare how his current roster of 3-year-olds stacks up to the champion that established the benchmark.

Among the most obvious would-be heirs to the throne of  I’ll Have Another, the dual classic winner trained by O’Neill last season, is He’s Had Enough – a  quirky gray colt who also has the same owner (Paul Reddam) and jockey (Mario Gutierrez) as his predecessor. In his quest to try and follow in I’ll Have Another’s footsteps, He’s Had Enough is literally going to try and emulate the 2012 Kentucky Derby winner beginning this Saturday when he faces just three others in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

The Robert B. Lewis ended up being the initial shot across the bow I’ll Have Another delivered a year ago when the son of Flower Alley won by 2 3/4 lengths in the first start of what would be an Eclipse Award-winning campaign.

Similarly, the 1 1/16-miles race will mark He’s Had Enough’s first start since a fifth place run in the Grade I CashCall Futurity. While the son of Tapit displayed breakout ability in getting beat just a head by eventual 2-year-old champion Shanghai Bobby in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, it has become apparent to O’Neill that where things came so easy to I’ll  Have Another, He’s Had Enough is going to need a push in order to turn the corner from a development standpoint.

“He’s a strange horse because he does not apply himself race to race or day to day for that matter,” O’Neill said by phone on Thursday. “He’s very inconsistent so we’ve taken the approach going into this race where we’ve worked him in company, we’ve worked him out of the gate, really been strict and tough with him. I’m hoping we’ll see a better effort.

“After the Breeders’ Cup, we kind of let him train himself into the CashCall Futurity and that obviously wasn’t enough. So we’ve been a lot more strict and firm on him.”

The Robert B. Lewis, which is worth 10 points on the new Kentucky Derby system that will determine the field come May 4, will be the first start on dirt for He’s Had Enough since the Breeders’ Cup with his four other outings all coming over turf or synthetic surfaces. The colt did break his maiden over the synthetic track at Del Mar last August but has been off the board since with the exception of his Breeders’ Cup near miss.

O’Neill does plan to add blinkers to He’s Had Enough this Saturday and hopes to get a truer read on what he has to work with going forward.

“He’s worn them (blinkers) before but we’re trying to keep his mind on his business,” O’Neill said. “When Mario calls on him, we want him to jump into the bridle. Even though it’s a short field and we don’t have the speed…I think with Mario and the way this horse has trained, I think we can stay in touch and that we’re better than the other three.”

Of the three horses He’s Had Enough will face in the Robert B. Lewis, two of them are from the barn of Hall of Famer Bob Baffert in Den’s Legacy and impressive maiden winner Flashback.

He’s Had Enough does not shoulder the task of being O’Neill’s lone main Derby contender this season, however, as his stablemate Goldencents is the current co-leader of the Kentucky Derby points system with 24. A winner of 3 of 4 starts, Goldencents captured the Grade III Delta Jackpot last November and opened his 2013 year with authority in taking the Grade III Sham Stakes on January 5.

“He’s such a cool horse. Unlike He’s Had Enough, he brings it every day,” said O’Neill, who added that Goldencents remains on target for the Grade II San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 9.

The only loss Goldencents suffered was when he ran second to Shanghai Bobby in the Grade I Champagne Stakes last October. The son of Into Mischief was not Breeders’ Cup nominated thus did not run in the Juvenile

“We just figured why squeeze that race in and pay to play,” O’Neill said. “It just didn’t make sense.”

Runaway horse Bullet Catcher dead heats for second at Laurel Park

Laurel Park release:

Bullet Catcher, who made local and national headlines earlier this month after escaping from the Laurel Park backside and taking a 1.6 mile journey, finished in a dead heat for second place at odds of 12-1 in Thursday’s feature at Laurel, a $40,000 allowance race.

Making his first start on his home track, the son of Strong Hope flashed early speed, pressed the pace before surging to the lead, then held on to tie for second in a four-horse blanket finish.

Disco Elvis – a 23-1 longshot –  won the 5-1/2 furlong test, a neck ahead of Bullet Catcher and late closing Pass You Bye Bye, who rallied on the outside. Field Pass was a nose behind that duo for fourth.

J.D. Acosta got his first try aboard Bullet Catcher, who paid $6 to place and $7.80 to show.

“He tried really hard,” Acosta said. “He made a really good effort in the end. It looked like he was going to get there but it felt like he slowed down in the last 25 yards.”

On Friday morning, Jan. 11, the 4-year old Jerry Robb trainee tossed jockey Jeremy Rose while heading back to the barn after a workout and got loose. He made his way out of the stable gate, made a left on Whiskey Bottom Road and another left onto U.S. Route 1 before being caught, un-injured.

Jockey Abel Castellano captured part of the adventure on his mobile phone.

“It was fun to ride him,” added Acosta. “I went on You Tube and saw Abel’s video. I am glad he is okay. He is a fighter.”


This was the second consecutive second place finish for the gelding since the incident. He was a runner-up in an allowance race at Charles Town off a six-month layoff on January 19. He is 1-for-8 lifetime with five in the money finishes.

Champions Shanghai Bobby, Beholder top Experimental Free Handicap

Jockey Club press release

Shanghai Bobby, last year’s champion 2-year-old male and undefeated winner of the Breeders’ Cup  Juvenile, received the high weight assignment of 126 pounds on The Jockey Club’s 2012 Experimental Free Handicap, released today by The Jockey Club.

Beholder, who won the Breeders’ Cup Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies, was the high weight filly with 123.

Shanghai Bobby and Beholder were also Eclipse Award winners in their respective divisions of 2-year-old male and 2-year-old filly.

All Experimental Free Handicap weight assignments, as well as past performances for those horses, are available within the Publications and Resources section of at

The Jockey Club Experimental Free Handicap, published annually since 1935, is a weight-based assessment of the previous year’s leading 2-year-olds, with the weights compiled for a hypothetical race at 1 1/16 miles on dirt.

The weighting committee of racing secretaries was once again composed of P.J. Campo of the New York Racing Association, Ben Huffman of Churchill Downs and Keeneland, and Thomas S. Robbins of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

The committee weighted a total of 125 males and 117 fillies. Eligible for weighting were all 2-year-olds of 2012 that finished among the top four in graded or listed stakes races run in the continental United States. Listed stakes in 2012 were those with a value of $75,000 or more available to all starters, and no restrictions other than age or sex.

Shanghai Bobby won all five of his starts last year by a combined 14 lengths and earned $1,687,000. In addition to a maiden allowance race and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Shanghai Bobby won the Grade I Champagne Stakes, the Hopeful Stakes, and the Track Barron Stakes. He was bred in Kentucky by Stonehaven Steadings and is owned by Starlight Racing, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor, Michael B. and Derrick Smith, Derrick,

Beholder won three of her five starts and was second by a nose in the Del Mar Debutante Stakes with total earnings of $1,215,000. She was bred in Kentucky by Clarkland Farm and is owned by Spendthrift Farm.

Among sires of Experimental horses, Harlan’s Holiday leads the list of colts and geldings with five representatives; Any Given Saturday and Street Hero have four each.

City Zip and Malibu Moon head the fillies’ list with five representatives each. Broken Vow and Kitten’s Joy have four each.

Combining the two lists, Harlan’s Holiday, Kitten’s Joy and Malibu Moon are the leading sires with six each, followed by Broken Vow, City Zip, Henny Hughes and Unbridled’s Song with five each.

Kentucky, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania produced the largest number of horses in the 2012 Experimental Free Handicap. Of the 242 juveniles weighted, 152 were bred in Kentucky, 31 in Florida, 11 in New York and nine in Pennsylvania.

Animal Kingdom, Royal Delta lead US Dubai World Cup nominees

Defending champion, Monterosso heads a star-studded list of nominations for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 30, which also includes Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, Pacific Classic star, Dullahan and South African supermare, Igugu.

The 18th running of the world’s richest race has attracted 272 nominees, from 11 countries at closing of the free nominations. Among them are 184 from the UAE, 27 from the US, 18 from South Africa, 11 from Japan, seven from Great Britain, four from Hong Kong and two from Singapore.

From the US is champion and two-time Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner, Royal Delta.

The Dale Romans-trained duo, Dullahan and 2012 Breeder’s Cup Turf winner, Little Mike have also been nominated and are expected to have runs on the March 9 Super Saturday card en route to Dubai World Cup day. Like many Dubai World Cup nominated horses, both also hold nominations for the Dubai Duty Free, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free and the Dubai Sheema Classic, presented by Longines.

Following on from the memorable victory of Victoire Pisa in 2011, there is strong Japanese representation in the Dubai World Cup day nominations, headed by four-time Grade 1 winner, Gentildonna in the Dubai Sheema Classic and high-class sprinter, Lord Kanaloa, who holds a nomination for the Dubai Golden Shaheen, the third leg of the 2013 Global Sprint Challenge.

Igugu, Mike de Kock’s highly-anticipated champion mare is one of 18 Dubai World Cup nominations from the South African. She has also been nominated for the two Group 1 US$5m turf races, the Dubai Duty Free, which has attracted 304 nominations and the Dubai Sheema Classic, which has 266 nominations, including 2011 Melbourne Cup and 2012 Caulfield Cup winner, Dunaden.

Also in the Dubai World Cup running from the South African’s stable are a number of Ballydoyle graduates including 2012 Jebel Hatta winner and Dubai World Cup eighth, Masterofhounds, Juddmonte International third, Await The Dawn, Group 2 winner, David Livingston and 2011 Irish Derby and US Secretariat Stakes winner, Treasure Beach and 2012 UAE Derby winner Daddy Long Legs.

Hero of Argentina’s 2012 Premio Classico General Belgrano and the Breeder’s Cup Marathon, Calidoscopio, trained by Guillermo Frenkel, holds nominations for the Dubai World Cup and the Dubai Gold Cup, sponsored by Al Tayer Motors. Indian filly, In the Spotlight has also been handed a Dubai Gold Cup nomination.

A number of familiar names have once again been nominated to the nine-race card which represents the most valuable day of horseracing in the world.

Dubai World Cup Carnival star, Barbecue Eddie, trained by Doug Watson, who has now won four on the bounce, has been nominated to the Godolphin Mile, sponsored by Etisalat, a race that he had to be withdrawn from in 2012 after suffering a fever in the preceding days.

“In 2002 we had 87 horses nominated for the Dubai World Cup at the free nominations stage, this year we have 272,” said Martin Talty, International Manager, Dubai Racing Club. “The nominations shouldn’t be used as an assessment of the quality of the ultimate field, but the large increases over the years do serve to demonstrate the status that this flagship race, and indeed all the races on the Dubai World Cup day, has attained all over the world.

“A total of 23 countries are represented in these nominations for our programme of six Group 1 races, two Group 2s and one Group 3 outing worth a combined $27.25 million in prize money. I look forward to following the progress of all the nominated horses as we draw nearer to the big day on March 30.”

Dominguez transferred out of ICU

NYRA press release:

Three-time Eclipse Award winning jockey Ramon Dominguez, a patient at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, was transferred Thursday from the Neurological Intensive Care Unit to a Medical Step-Down Unit, where he will continue his recovery. Dominguez was diagnosed with a skull fracture as a result of a spill on January 18 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

“The step-down unit is an intermediate location between the ICU and a regular, inpatient room,” said the jockey’s wife, Sharon Dominguez. “Ramon’s doctors say he is recovering well, and we’re beginning to discuss his rehab options.”

There is currently no timetable for Dominguez’s release from New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and doctors have prohibited him from having visitors.

“We’re so appreciative of everyone’s support, thoughts, and prayers,” Sharon Dominguez said. “Many people have also given generously in Ramon’s name to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF), which is a cause he has always been passionate about. Those vital donations provide financial assistance to permanently disabled riders, and we would encourage anyone who wishes to show support for Ramon to donate at”

Dominguez was unseated during the running of the seventh race on Friday, January 18, when his mount, Convocation, appeared to clip heels with the eventual winner, Sovereign Default. Convocation, who stumbled and fell, did not appear to be seriously injured in the incident and was walked off the track.

A native of Venezuela, Dominguez led all riders on the NYRA circuit in 2012 with 322 victories and led the nation in earnings with $25.6 million. Fellow New York jockeys John Velazquez and Javier Castellano accepted the 2012 Eclipse Award on behalf on Dominguez at the awards ceremony on January 19 in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Dewey Square, Frac Daddy taking their shots at the champ

While neither prevailed in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs last November, the connections of race runner-up Frac Daddy and third-place finisher Dewey Square each departed that evening with an abundance of optimism over what their respective charges would be capable of during their  3-year-old seasons.

Such is the confidence trainers Kenny McPeek and Dale Romans each have in the colts that neither blinked at facing the unabashed divisional leader head on right out of the gate in 2013.

The storyline for Saturday’s Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park rightfully centers around whether newly-crowned juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby can show the same brilliance in his 3-year-old debut as he did during his unblemished 5-for-5 2-year-old campaign.

If there are any early stumbling blocks for Shanghai Bobby as he transitions to his sophomore form,  fellow Holy Bull entrants Frac Daddy and Dewey Square could be among the likely candidates to pounce given the previous flashes of talent each has shown.

Owned by Magic City Thoroughbreds and trained by McPeek, Frac Daddy battled Kentucky Jockey Club winner Uncaptured for the better part of the final three furlongs in that race before falling a neck short. The son of Scat Daddy had already earned McPeek’s raves when he broke his maiden by 9 3/4 lengths second time out going 1 1/16-miles at Churchill on November 3. When the gray colt proved he had some fight in his heart during the Kentucky Jockey Club, McPeek’s opinion of his Kentucky Derby hopeful soared.

“The  horse just seems to have a lot of presence, he is quite talented and he’s shown it early on here,” McPeek said. “It’s just a matter of we have to hope that everything goes smoothly in the next couple of preps but he acts like he’ll run all day. He somewhat reminds me of (1995 Kentucky Derby runner up) Tejano Run…but I do think he’s going to be a horse that is going to require some pace in front of him at some point.

“He’s doing well at this point and I’m excited about what the year has in store for him.”

Dewey Square was 1 1/4 lengths behind Frac Daddy and Uncaptured at the wire in the Kentucky Jockey Club. But the way the son of Bernardini kept coming after being hung wide on both turns was just what Romans – who was just honored with his first Eclipse Award for outstanding trainer – wanted to see from a potential classic contender.

Owned and bred by Siena Farms, Dewey Square broke his maiden first time out at Hoosier Park on September 21 and won a 1 1/16-miles allowance race over the main track at Churchill in October before stepping up to stakes company in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

“He’s one that really hasn’t shown a weakness yet,” Romans said of Dewey Square. “He has all the moving parts and his potential to me is  unlimited. It’s just a matter of how good he can be.

“All the good young horses I’ve had have made that turn after that 2-year-old  year into the 3-year-old year, from boys to men and it seems like he’s doing that right now. He’s gotten a little bit more confident in himself I believe.”

If Shanghai Bobby is everything his prior form suggests, no 3-year-old is going to taste Kentucky Derby glory without going through him first. With that in mind, McPeek and Romans figure better to find out now where their charges stack up against the colt who is currently the benchmark.

“I’m thinking more that we need to get a nice race out of our colt. If it sets up for him great and if it doesn’t, we’ll go onto the next one,” McPeek said. “But at least we’ll know how we pair up.”






Shanghai Bobby carries the weight of a champion in Holy Bull

Courtesy of the Gulfstream Park publicity staff:

Shanghai Bobby is set to run at Gulfstream Park Saturday wearing the figurative crown of a champion. Honored as the country’s outstanding 2-year-old of 2012 at last weekend’s Eclipse Awards ceremony, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt will begin a quest for a more elusive crown in the Grade III, $400,000 Holy Bull, a major prep on the Road to the Kentucky Derby  and, ultimately, the Triple Crown.

The winter book favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby in the aftermath of an undefeated five-race juvenile season, Shanghai Bobby will make one of the most anticipated 3-year-old debuts in recent years in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull. Pletcher is keenly aware that fans will venture to Gulfstream Saturday counting on the son of Harlan’s Holiday to produce yet another exciting performance.

“Expectations are pretty high, so we have to make sure we’ve done our job properly and put him in a position where he will perform to the best of his capabilities,” Pletcher said.

Shanghai Bobby drew the rail for Saturday’s race and was made the 4-5 morning-line favorite in the 10-horse field.

Shanghai Bobby has shown that he is capable of some pretty special things thus far in his career, including a thrilling and courageous triumph in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita that capped a brilliant 2012 campaign.

The Kentucky-bred colt had merely outclassed his competition in his first four starts, including commanding triumphs in the Grade II Hopeful and Grade I Champagne Stakes, but he was forced to dig deep to stage a winning rally in the Juvenile in his first race around two turns. After losing his focus when suddenly inheriting the lead at the top of the stretch, Shanghai Bobby eased himself up and was headed by He’s Had Enough. Despite losing his momentum, he met the challenge and fought back to maintain his undefeated record by a head.

“I’m impressed the way he’s been able to handle everything we’ve thrown at him,” Pletcher said. “He’s won at Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga, Santa Anita, and he seems to handle every surface we’ve put him on. He’s handled shipping cross-country; he’s handled two turns. So he’s been a real pleasure to train.”

Pletcher has been extremely pleased with Shanghai Bobby’s preparation for his 2013 debut.

“He’s doing great. He’s grown up, filling out, all the things you want to see from him going into his 3-year-old year,” the defending nine-time Gulfstream training champion said.

Rosie Napravnik, who has been aboard for all five wins, will travel from Fair Grounds for the return mount on Shanghai Bobby.

“I think she’s an exceptional rider. Her record pretty much speaks for itself,” Pletcher said. “She rode him the first time at Aqueduct in April, and she’s had a perfect record on him. You can’t ask for more than that.”
Pletcher has been the most dominant trainer in racing for the past decade, but his lofty status doesn’t preclude a few pre-race jitters.

“Any time you have an undefeated champion, you want to make sure you have him properly prepared,” the five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer said. “So there’s always a little added anxiety when you’re running one that has a resume like his. But it’s a position you want to be in.”

Melnyk mares to be offered at Fasig-Tipton February sale

Twenty-eight selected offerings from Eugene Melnyk’s Winding Oaks Farm have been added to the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale. The Melnyk horses will be part of a supplemental catalogue which will sell at the conclusion of the regular portion of the sale on Monday, February 11th. Taylor Made Sales Agency will act as agent for the Melnyk offerings.

Among the broodmares to be offered are Grade I winner Pool Land, in foal to Smart Strike; three-time Canadian champion and graded stakes winner Sealy Hill, in foal to Distorted Humor; and graded stakes winner Gemswick Park, in foal to Tiznow. Also included are five mares in foal to the Melnyk-raced Eclipse Champion Speightstown, who sired 20 stakes winners in 2012 and finished the year ranked 3rd on the general sire list.

There are also three mares in-foal to Melnyk’s Grade I winner Flower Alley, the sire of 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner and Eclipse Champion Three-Year-Old Colt I’ll Have Another. Also among the Melynk offerings are mares in foal to leading sires Candy Ride, Congrats, Harlan’s Holiday and More Than Ready.
Roxy Gap, a three-time graded stakes winner in 2012, headlines the racing/broodmare prospects on offer. The daughter of Indian Charlie has lifetime earnings of more than $860,000, and is a 2012 Sovereign Award finalist in the Older Female, Turf Female and Female Sprinter categories.
Winding Oaks General Manager Phil Hronec explained that this bloodstock reduction is part of their strategic plan. “We have had great success with our homebred program over the years,” said Hronec. “Moving forward we have decided to shift more towards buying to race instead of breeding to race. It is bittersweet to part with these mares but we are excited about our new direction.”

Since the early 1990’s, Melnyk color bearers have amassed 59 graded stakes wins and earnings of more than $30,000,000. Top horses campaigned by Melnyk include Eclipse Champion Speightstown, Grade 1 winners Bishop Court Hill, Flower Alley, Harmony Lodge, Host, Marley Vale, Pool Land and Tweedside; Archers Bay, winner of 1998 Queen’s Plate Stakes; and Sealy Hill, the first Canadian filly to sweep the Canadian Triple Tiara series when she did so in 2007.

The Melnyk offerings can now be found online at  Printed versions of the supplemental catalogue will be available from Fasig-Tipton by Monday, January 28th. Inquiries about the consignment can be directed to Mark Taylor or Jeff Hayslett of Taylor Made Sales Agency at (859) 885-3345.

Rushaway Stakes revived due to Team Valor sponsorship

Edited release:

Team Valor International has joined forces with Turfway Park to restore the Rushaway Stakes to the undercard of the Grade III Spiral Stakes on March 23, sponsoring the 1 1/16-miles race for a purse of  $75,000.


The sponsorship will go directly to the purse for the  Rushaway, which originally was not on Turfway’s 2013 stakes schedule.


Team Valor captured the Rushaway in 1995 with Key Guy and finished second in 2011 with Crimson China. The stable has also captured the last two runnings of the Spiral, taking last year’s edition with Went the Day Well and in 2011 with eventual Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.


“We didn’t want to see the Rushaway disappear so we stepped up,” Team Valor CEO Barry Irwin said in a statement. “It is nice to be able to support Turfway Park, which has been vital to our Triple Crown success over the last two racing seasons. Team Valor International races all over the world, but we are based in Kentucky and we want to do anything we can to bolster the local sport.”


Animal Kingdom captured the 2011 Spiral over Turfway’s Polytrack surface in his stakes debut. Six weeks later he became the first horse to score in the Derby in his first start on dirt and at the end of the year was named the Eclipse Award champion 3-year-old male. Last year, Went the Day Well won the Spiral en route to finishing  fourth in the Kentucky Derby.


“We very much appreciate that Team Valor elected to partner with Turfway to maintain the Rushaway Stakes on our Spiral Stakes card”, said Turfway general manager Chip Bach. “Team Valor’s on-track and winner’s circle contribution to Spiral Stakes day is well known, and their decision to bring their professional expertise to the day as a partner for the Rushaway Stakes is a wonderful opportunity for Turfway and for Kentucky racing.”


Written for 3-year-olds, the Rushaway Stakes has been run continually since its establishment in 1986. The race is named for the winner of the 1936 Latonia Derby at the original Latonia Race Course, which offered racing in Northern Kentucky from 1883 to 1939 and was the inspiration for the opening of Turfway in 1959.

Champion Groupie Doll to rest up for Fall campaign

Trainer Buff Bradley makes a point to listen to his gut when his horses tell him they’re doing well. The same is also true when he senses something is amiss – especially when it is not patently obvious.

While a thorough veterinary exam did not uncover any major ailments, Bradley has decided to ship newly-minted champion Groupie Doll back to his family’s Frankfort-based farm for turnout as he has been unhappy with her training at Gulfstream Park.

Groupie Doll, who was honored with the Eclipse Award for champion female sprinter on Saturday night, battled a minor infection earlier in January after returning from a month off at the Bradley’s farm but has had good blood work in recent weeks. Still, Bradley said the 5-year-old daughter of Bowman’s Band did not appear to be moving as comfortably over the track as usual.

Though Groupie Doll will get some extended time off, Bradley says the plan is still to race her this year with an eye on a returning for the Presque Isle Masters in September, the Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland in October and a title defense in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita Park in November – the same trio she swept in 2012.

“The vet couldn’t really pinpoint the exact problem so he just said to give her some time,” Bradley, who co-owns Groupie Doll along with his father Fred and partners Carl Hurst and Brent Burns, said Wednesday. “We’re just thinking that last year’s campaign was probably a little more demanding than we originally thought and a month off wasn’t going to do it for her.

“All four of us are 100 percent wanting to race her if she’s going to be able to race. Right now don’t see any serious problem. Some people say you waste a year not breeding her when she’s at her most valuable right now but… we love to race and that’s what racing is about. I feel very confident if she’s 100 percent sound, I can bring her back and get her ready for the three fall races that she ran prior to the Cigar Mile.”

After Groupie Doll romped to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint – her fifth consecutive win and third Grade I triumph of 2012 – her connections called an audible and tested her against males in the Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on November 24 where she was beaten just a short nose by 2011 Travers Stakes winner Stay Thirsty.

Though Bradley knows some will now question whether the chestnut mare got too knocked out from that gut wrenching Cigar Mile outing, he has no regrets about shipping in for the race given how strongly she came out of the Breeders’ Cup.

“I know how she was and how she was doing. Other people will second guess it more than myself,” Bradley said. “In this business, you really   can’t second guess. You live and you learn and just because it happened to her doesn’t mean it will happen to the next one. And I don’t know that’s what happened to her.

“I don’t know that she might have done something outside at the farm and probably some people will second guess that and say maybe I shouldn’t have turned her out (after the race), maybe I should have kept her in training. So I think if you second guess, you’re second guessing everything you might do if it’s right or wrong. I don’t have any regrets going up there and trying it. I don’t think (we were asking too much). We let the horse tell us what to do.”

Disappointing as the current setback may be, Bradley says having his mare already minted as a champion is a perfect salve.

“The good thing about my father and our partners is we’re comfortable with the decisions we made and it doesn’t take away from what we had last year and with the Eclipse Awards,” Bradley said. “But I think we’re doing the best thing for her. When you run those kind of races you better be 110 percent.”

Next Page »