09/10/2013 9:03AM

Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint: Groupie Doll helps clear up picture

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Tom Keyser
Groupie Doll's victory Monday in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters confirmed position as the horse to beat in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

The lineup for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita figures to be shaped by a couple of major questions:

1. Is Groupie Doll really as good as she was last year when she dominated the seven-furlong race as an odds-on favorite?

2. Are the connections of some of the more versatile filly-mare routers so respectful (fearful?) of two-time champion Royal Delta in the BC Distaff that perhaps they’ll opt instead for the Filly-Mare Sprint?

Groupie Doll went a long way in answering the first question when she set a track record Monday night in a repeat victory in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Masters in Erie, Pa. Trainer Buff Bradley was elated with the effort by the homebred 5-year-old mare, whose final BC prep will come Oct. 5 at Keeneland in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, the same race she won last year prior to a 4 1/2-length triumph.

“The big mare is back,” Bradley said Monday night in the immediate aftermath of the Masters. “We really thought she was back, and this race proved it. We’re very happy.”

Bradley confirmed Tuesday morning by phone that all was well with Groupie Doll as she was being vanned back to her home base at Churchill Downs.

As for the second question, perhaps there are some talented fillies and mares out there whose trainers might feel they have a better chance by shortening up in the F-M Sprint rather than knock heads with Royal Delta in the 1 1/8-mile Distaff. That prospective group is headed by such accomplished 3-year-olds as Beholder, Fiftyshadesofhay, and Executiveprivilege.

Otherwise, a list of the strongest threats to Groupie Doll would have to include these fillies enjoying banner seasons: Reneesgotzip, the speedy California-based 4-year-old who will be trained up to the race by Peter Miller; Dance to Bristol, a Maryland-based 4-year-old who likely will take her seven-race win streak to the Sept. 21 Gallant Bloom at Belmont Park for her final BC prep, according to trainer Ollie Figgins 3rd; and Sweet Lu Lu, the unbeaten Test Stakes winner based in California with Jerry Hollendorfer.