Groupie Doll inches her way back

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Seven months have passed since reigning female sprint champion Groupie Doll made her last start, a narrow nose loss to Stay Thirsty in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, but her return to the races is not far away.

The Bowman’s Band mare arrived at trainer William “Buff” Bradley’s barn at Churchill Downs last month after a fairly lengthy rest. Groupie Doll was shipped to Gulfstream Park at the start of the year to prepare for her 5-year-old campaign, but those plans were placed on hold when it was discovered that her blood was not quite right. She was then taken back to the track once her blood improved, but Bradley was still unsatisfied with the way she was training.

“She just wasn’t herself,” Bradley said. “The way she trained just wasn’t like her.”

Groupie Doll then spent three months at Bradley’s Indian Ridge Farm in Frankfort, Ky., where she was united with multiple graded stakes winner Brass Hat, a now 12-year-old gelding who Bradley says gave her plenty of off-the-track schooling.

“He would run with her in the paddock on our farm,” Bradley said. “He really trained her.”

Groupie Doll is back galloping at Churchill Downs, which will continue until the end of the month. Bradley pointed out that she would not start putting in workouts until next month.

So where will Groupie Doll make her 5-year-old debut? Bradley is still uncertain, but said that he hoped to have her ready to return the races by August. He mentioned the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters, a race she won last year, as well as the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga as possibilities for comebacks, citing positives to both races.

“The Ballerina is a ‘Win and You’re In’ race, so that’s a good reason to run there,” Bradley said. “But we won the Presque Isle Downs Masters last year, and it’s only about half the distance away from us. It’s all a matter of what works best for the filly.”

No fall campaign has been mapped out yet. Bradley’s mind is focused on the present and he just wants to “get her through next month” before deciding on any future races.

Groupie Doll has won nine of 17 career starts, six of those wins in graded stakes. Last year, she won five of nine starts, including the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita to lock up her divisional championship.


Groupie Doll wins 2012 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Groupie Doll’s racing career.