09/28/2013 12:46PM

Churchill Downs: Groupie Doll has sharpening drill for the TCA Stakes

Coady Photography
Groupie Doll will prep for the Breeders' Cup next Saturday at Keeneland in the TCA Stakes.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Groupie Doll had her final workout for the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes, breezing a half-mile in 48.20 seconds early Saturday over a fast main track at Churchill Downs. Regular exercise rider Jada Schlenk was aboard.

“I told Jada to let her work on a little today,” said trainer Buff Bradley. “The mare galloped out real strong and came back full of energy. That’ll sharpen her up. She’s ready.”

Groupie Doll, the reigning filly-mare sprint champion, will have Rajiv Maragh back aboard and will be heavily favored Saturday at Keeneland in the Grade 2, $200,000 TCA Stakes, a six-furlong race she won easily last year. The opposition is expected to include Judy the Beauty, Livi Makenzie, Purely Hot, and Tanglewood Tale.

The TCA is one of nine graded stakes that opens the 17-day Keeneland fall meet during the traditional three-day FallStars Weekend. The richest FallStars race, the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile, will have the reigning Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, as a heavy favorite in a field that figures to have no more than six or seven starters. The 6-year-old gelding once again is using the Grade 1 Shadwell as a stepping-stone to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, set for Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.

Trainer Charlie LoPresti and owner Mort Fink confirmed Wise Dan Wednesday for the Shadwell. Last year, Wise Dan won the Shadwell Mile before capturing the BC Mile to clinch Horse of the Year honors. The 6-year-old gelding has won his last nine races, including all five this year.

“We’re definitely running,” LoPresti reiterated early Saturday from his Keeneland base. Keeneland begins Friday with the Alcibiades and Phoenix; the Shadwell and TCA are among five Saturday stakes. The Spinster Stakes on Sunday brings a huge three-day weekend to a close.

Entries for Friday will be drawn Tuesday. The Saturday card will be drawn Wednesday, and Keeneland racing secretary Ben Huffman is hoping to hustle enough entries to make the Shadwell a viable test for Wise Dan. Huffman said he expects the opposition to include Silver Max, Summer Front, Willcox Inn, and “hopefully two or three more” from a nominations list of 31.

Here are lists of some of the prospective starters in the four other Grade 1 races on FallStars weekend:

◗ $400,000 Darley Alcibiades: Designer Legs, Rosalind, She’s Offlee Good, Richies Party Girl.

◗ $400,000 First Lady: Better Lucky, Daisy Devine, Dayatthespa, Hungry Island, Miz Ida.

◗ $400,000 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity: Arctic Slope, General Jack, Give No Quarter, Laddie Boy, Lunarwarfare, Oogeley Eye, Solitary Ranger, Tiznowforamerica, We Miss Artie.

◗ $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (Sunday): Byrama, Closing Range, Emollient, Hard Not to Like, Hard to Resist, On Fire Baby, Open Water, Sisterly Love, Summer Applause, Wine Princess.

Gentlemen’s Bet drills for Phoenix

In other Saturday works at Churchill, Gentlemen’s Bet, the likely favorite for the Grade 3, $200,000 Phoenix, went a half-mile in 50.20 seconds in company. Trainer Ron Moquett had considered running Gentlemen’s Bet in the Vosburgh at Belmont before bypassing it in favor of the six-furlong Phoenix, which also is expected to get Central Banker, Laurie’s Rocket, Reload, and Winning Cause.

Also, Saturday Neck ‘n Neck went five furlongs in 1:01.40; Bourbon Courage went a half-mile in 50 seconds; and Pure Fun went five furlongs in 1:00.60 in company. All are graded winners nearing comeback races following layoffs.

◗ What’ll they think of next? Keeneland has unveiled a phone app that allows ontrack fans to find others by way of a detailed map, surely a useful tool for those trying to meet up with friends on crowded, chaotic afternoons.