Champion Groupie Doll shows fire in first work of 2014

Champion female sprinter Groupie Doll gave trainer and co-breeder Buff Bradley a familiar feeling of confidence Saturday morning when she breezed a half-mile at Gulfstream Park in preparation for the final start, likely in the Grade III Hurricane Bertie on Feb. 9.

With exercise rider Jada Schlenk in the irons, the 6-year-old daughter of Bowman’s Band covered four furlongs in 49.49. The move was the first for Groupie Doll since her fourth-place run against males in the Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct November 30.

“This work here was just to tell us where she was,” Bradley said when reached in Florida Saturday morning. “She’s been doing very well at GoldMark (Training Center in Ocala) before she came here and they do a good job keeping a good fitness level on her. She is very much into it right now, she’s got a very good energy level and wants to march right to the track.

“Today Jada said she had her hands full,” Bradley continued. “I told her don’t go below :49 and she was right on it. She knows her and she said she galloped out really strong.”

Groupie Doll is the heavy favorite to be named champion female sprinter for a second consecutive year when the 43rd Eclipse Awards are held at Gulfstream on Jan. 18. The chestnut mare was purchased for $3.1 million by Mandy Pope at the 2013 Keeneland November breeding stock sale just days after winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint for the second straight year.

“What stops these older fillies and mares are their will to run and they want to start be momma,” said Bradley, who bred Groupie Doll along with his father Fred and campaigned her until he and his partners made the decision to sell her at Keeneland. “She’s still showing us that fire that we like to see from her.”

Groupie Doll will start her motherly duties sooner rather than later, however. She is slated to be bred to leading Gainesway sire Tapit this year following her expected start in the 6 1/2 furlong Hurricane Bertie.

“That is our No.1  option right now,” Bradley said of the Hurricane Bertie.