11/02/2012 9:25AM

Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint: Groupie Doll can put favorites on the board

Barbara D. Livingston
Groupie Doll will try to become the first favorite to win the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

ARCADIA, Calif. – It is a statistical blip that favorites are 0 for 5 in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Groupie Doll, to the rescue.

A blue-collar homebred with stunning raw ability, Groupie Doll will start as the most heavily favored runner of Breeders’ Cup 2012 after romping in four consecutive stakes. Nine others will try to beat her in the $1 million F-M Sprint, and good luck with that.

“She’s been that special one,” Groupie Doll’s owner-trainer William “Buff” Bradley said. “She gives a lot of people hope that you don’t have to have the top bloodlines.”

Groupie Doll is by the late sire Bowman’s Band, who stood for $6,000, and the final foal out of Deputy Doll, struck by lightning and killed this year. Groupie Doll carried the family torch as the season unfolded, and emerged as the country’s top female sprinter.

She added blinkers and won the Grade 1 Vinery Madison  in April at Keeneland, ripped to a 7 1/4-length victory a month later in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs, then followed with successive Grade 2 wins at Presque Isle Downs and Keeneland.

Three of those wins were on synthetic surfaces. “Obviously she can run on anything,” Bradley said. “I really think she likes the dirt better.”

Groupie Doll’s career-high figure (112 Beyer) was on dirt, and this week at Santa Anita she uncorked a 34.40-second dirt work without being asked. Groupie Doll holds form, likes her California surroundings, and enters the F-M Sprint (race 5) with no flaw.

To become the first winning favorite in the five-year history of the F-M Sprint, Groupie Doll must defeat a good field that includes 2011 F-M Sprint winner Musical Romance; sharp front-runner Dust and Diamonds; and three that won Grade 1’s at Santa Anita – Switch, Teddy’s Promise, and Turbulent Descent.

Groupie Doll’s win streak coincides with the addition of blinkers.

“I think the blinkers definitely helped her. That wasn’t all of it,” Bradley said. “She was maturing, and thriving and showing us a little more. The blinkers put her in the race a little earlier, instead of lagging behind.”

Rajiv Maragh rides Groupie Doll, owned by Bradley and his father, Fred, who also bred her. A 4-year-old, Groupie Doll has eight wins from 15 starts and earnings of more than $1 million. Bradley said she will campaign in 2013 as a 5-year-old.

Musical Romance is one year, and one Breeders’ Cup win, ahead of Groupie Doll. A 5-year-old, Musical Romance capped a 14-start campaign in 2011 by winning the F-M Sprint at Churchill Downs. Since then, owner-trainer Bill Kaplan has had one objective.

“Last year, I ran in a bunch of little stakes at Calder getting her up to Grade 1 caliber. This year, there was no need to,” Kaplan said. “Everything I did this year was to get ready for the Breeders’ Cup.”

Musical Romance this year has won three of seven, and overall is 12 for 40. She enters off a three-quarter-length victory in a $54,000 stakes at Calder. Juan Leyva has ridden her 23 times, including her last 16 starts, and continues to be impressed by her determination.

“She likes competition, she thrives on getting though tight spaces,” Leyva said.

Musical Romance has not started at Santa Anita. Not a problem.

“She’ll run on anything,” Leyva said. “You can put her on nails, and she will run on them.”

The F-M Sprint could be the final career start for Musical Romance, who is scheduled to be sold this month in Kentucky unless she does not meet her reserve. “If I buy her back, she will stay in training,” Kaplan said. “Otherwise, it will be up to her new owner.”

Dust and Diamonds, upset winner of the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom in September at Belmont, has a longshot chance to wire the field. Trainer Steve Asmussen shipped her to Santa Anita weeks ago, and she has thrived.

“We feel good about how she’s done, she’s trained really well out here,” Asmussen said. Dust and Diamonds, who will be ridden by Julien Leparoux, is scheduled to be sold next month. She is expected to set the pace.

Switch will make her final career start Saturday; she leaves next week for a Kentucky sale. Owned by Lee and Susan Searing, Switch finished second in the F-M Sprint each of the last two years. She won six races and more than $1.3 million from 23 starts. Garrett Gomez rides.

Teddy’s Promise won the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on Dec. 31, and has an upset chance if Joe Talamo can somehow maneuver her from the inside post to an outside position. Teddy’s Promise runs best when she is in the clear.

Turbulent Descent, fourth last out in the Gallant Bloom, has won eight of 13. Other starters include Belle of the Hall, Strike the Moon, Rumor, and Great Hot.