11/22/2012 2:00PM

Aqueduct: Groupie Doll goes after the boys in Cigar Mile; pick six carryover is $109K

Tom Keyser
Groupie Doll ran off with the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, and a win in the Cigar Mile would put her in the Horse of the Year picture.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – It is, they say, a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. For a filly, the best she can do is change the mind of her trainer. Apparently, Groupie Doll did just that.

Trainer Buff Bradley was content to stop on Groupie Doll following her powerful performance winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. Groupie Doll had other ideas.

So instead of frolicking on the Bradley family farm this weekend, Groupie Doll was one of many holiday travelers on Thanksgiving, vanning from Frankfort, Ky., to New York, where on Saturday she will take on the boys in the Grade 1, $350,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.

Groupie Doll’s presence adds some sizzle to a stakes-laden card that includes the Grade 1 Gazelle for 3-year-old fillies and the Remsen and Demoiselle, a pair of Grade 2, $250,000 stakes for 2-year-olds.

The Remsen, Cigar Mile, and Gazelle are the first three legs of a late pick-four wager that has a guaranteed pool of $250,000 and concludes with a New York-bred maiden turf race.

Groupie Doll is one of five Grade 1 winners in the Cigar Mile. The others are 2010 Cigar Mile winner Jersey Town, 2011 Travers winner Stay Thirsty, 2012 Donn Handicap winner Hymn Book, and this year’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship winner Coil.

Groupie Doll comes off a sensational, against-the-bias victory in the Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita. It was her fifth consecutive victory – all since adding blinkers and all in stakes.

Following the Breeders’ Cup, Bradley brought Groupie Doll to Churchill rather than his farm only because that track wanted to parade its Kentucky-based Breeders’ Cup winners on Nov. 11. Bradley kept Groupie Doll in light training, but it became obvious she wanted more.

Bradley remembers Groupie Doll coming off the track on the morning of Nov. 10 and her exercise rider, Jada Schlenk, telling him, “You better find her a race.”

Coincidentally, that was the day nominations to the Cigar Mile closed.

“She came back from California in great shape,” Bradley said. “People saw that on parade day at Churchill. She went over there not nervous, not excited, but you could tell she was like, ‘Hey let’s do this.’ She was ready to go then. We felt, why not? Let’s give it a shot. I love the mile for her. Rajiv [Maragh] is there, and he knows the track. We have a lot of plusses to go and very few minuses.”

A victory by Groupie Doll would be her fourth Grade 1 win of the year and could put her in the conversation for Horse of the Year. Bradley said that is not why he is running her here.

“If she was to win I think it would make people think a little bit, but it’s not anything we’re trying to do,” said Bradley, who is making his first appearance at Aqueduct. “I do know this – she’s my Horse of the Year, and that’s what really matters.”

Groupie Doll is 2 for 3 at a mile, her only loss coming to Boys at Tosconova when Groupie Doll began her 2012 campaign against males in an allowance race at Gulfstream.

Groupie Doll does her best running from off the pace, and she figures to get a solid pace with Stay Thirsty, Associate, and Buffum having drawn the inside three post positions.

A fast pace could also benefit Hymn Book, who finished second behind To Honor and Serve in this race last year. Hymn Book comes off a win in an overnight stakes at Belmont on Oct. 19, something he did coming into the 2011 Cigar.

“He might have been a little farther back than I would have liked, but he finished up good and a nice horse beat him,” trainer Shug McGaughey said, reflecting on last year’s Cigar Mile. “That day he proved to me he could run with this kind.”

Jersey Town upset the 2010 Cigar Mile at odds of 34-1, outfinishing Haynesfield. He won the Grade 2 Kelso going a mile at Belmont two starts back before finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 3.

“I don’t know if he didn’t like the track or two turns or what it was,” trainer Barclay Tagg said about the Breeders’ Cup. “This was always a thought: If he came out of it good, we were going to try it, and so far he came out of it good.”

Jersey Town breezed a sharp five furlongs in 59.40 seconds last Sunday.

Stay Thirsty comes off a head loss behind Flat Out in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, a race in which he set very fast fractions and finished 5 1/2 lengths ahead of Fort Larned, who came back to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Coil, a Grade 1 winner at 1 1/8 miles and at six furlongs, ships in for trainer Bob Baffert, who has won this race three times. Coil is coming off a seventh-place in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Buffum was a sharp winner of the Grade 3 Bold Ruler on Oct. 27, his first start off a 112-day layoff. His trainer, Tom Albertrani, said he was only on the lead in the Bold Ruler because of his rail draw. Saturday, Buffum breaks from post 3.

Associate, third in the Bold Ruler, completes the field.