Updated on 11/02/2013 5:33PM

Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint: Groupie Doll repeats

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Barbara D. Livingston
Rajiv Maragh celebrates after Groupie Doll wins the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The majority said Groupie Doll had lost a step or two, and they were proved absolutely correct when the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint was run Saturday at Santa Anita – although it did them little good.

Instead of powering off to win by 4 1/2 lengths, as she did last year as an odds-on favorite, all Groupie Doll did this year was win by a half-length as a lukewarm favorite, probably clinching another divisional championship and rendering her trainer, Buff Bradley, a veritable puddle of emotion.

Bradley, who bred 5-year-old Groupie Doll in partnership with his 82-year-old father, Fred, could barely speak after Groupie Doll and regular rider Rajiv Maragh gamely turned back Judy the Beauty and jockey Luis Saez in the seventh running of the seven-furlong Filly and Mare Sprint. The Bradleys co-own Groupie Doll with Carl Hurst and Brent Burns and will sell the mare at auction Wednesday at Keeneland in their home state of Kentucky.

“She’s the best!” exclaimed Bradley.

Groupie Doll returned $8 to win after finishing in 1:20.75 over a fast track. Judy the Beauty was another half-length ahead of Dance Card, with Summer Applause another 3 1/2 lengths behind in fourth.

[BREEDERS' CUP SATURDAY: Video replays and race results]

Sweet Lulu broke fastest from her outside post to make the lead down the backstretch, with Teddy’s Promise emerging from a pack to give her a sustained challenge as they entered the far turn. Approaching the quarter pole, however, Groupie Doll loomed a huge presence after getting away cleanly from post 11 and never having a straw in her path during a sustained outside run. As those early leaders began to fade, it was Groupie Doll with her blinkered head in front as they straightened for home.

“It set up just like last year,” Maragh said. “When we got to the quarter pole, I was like, ‘Whew, we’re passing horses.’ And I haven’t even asked her yet. She ran great.”

Down the stretch, even as Judy the Beauty and Dance Card kept inching closer, they simply could not get to Groupie Doll, a chestnut Kentucky-bred who won for the 11th time in 21 career starts and earned $550,000 to increase her career bankroll to $2,478,850. She becomes the first two-time winner of the Filly and Mare Sprint, which was first run in 2007 at Monmouth Park.

Judy the Beauty, a 9-1 shot, was ridden by Saez only because John Velazquez, who was named to ride by owner-trainer Wesley Ward, was injured in an earlier BC race.

“I came flying, but it was too late,” Saez said.

Bradley said earlier in the week that he knew he would be extremely emotional after the Filly and Mare Sprint, “win, lose, or dead heat.” His father, too ill to withstand the rigors of traveling, watched in their hometown of Frankfort, Ky., as did Bradley’s wife, Kim, and their three children. All have been integral parts of the Groupie Doll team, along with exercise rider Jada Schlenk and assistants Matt Hebert and Maria Kabel.

Groupie Doll entered Saturday with just one win from three starts in 2013, but Bradley was far more confident in his star than most people thought he had a right to be. He believed the return to seven furlongs and a dirt surface would be of great benefit; that an outside post would afford Groupie Doll a clear trip; and the long run down the backstretch would allow Maragh to get her into a smooth rhythm.

He was dead-on about all of it.

“No one on my team ever lost confidence in her,” he said. “We always knew how good she is. I’m just so happy she’s going out a winner for us.”

Groupie Doll is not necessarily finished racing, as she is being sold as a racing or broodmare prospect at Keeneland.

After Summer Applause, completing the order were Sweet Lulu, Dance to Bristol, Great Hot, Teddy’s Promise, Book Review, Renee’s Titan, Ismene, and Starship Truffles.

Payoffs
$1 exacta (11-9) $29
50-cent trifecta (11-9-4) $109.30
10-centsuperfecta (11-9-4-7) $236.90
$2 double (1-11), $19.40
50-cent pick 3 (5-1-11) $337.95