11/17/2012 12:36PM

Churchill Downs: Groupie Doll, Shackleford work for holiday week stakes

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Groupie Doll, works a half-mile at Churchill Downs on Saturday and will likely run in the Cigar Mile.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Groupie Doll and Shackleford were both out for serious work Saturday morning at Churchill Downs when prepping for likely starts this coming weekend.

Both 4-year-olds went a half-mile over a fast and tight main track, with Groupie Doll going in 48.20 seconds just a few minutes before Shackleford went in 47.40. Their respective trainers said both are very likely to make their first starts since the Breeders’ Cup this weekend.

Buff Bradley said he is “almost sure” he will send Groupie Doll to Aqueduct for the Grade 1, $350,000 Cigar Mile on Saturday, pending release of the weight assignments. Bradley said he was optimistic those weights would not overly penalize Groupie Doll as a filly taking on male rivals. “I’m sure they’ll be fair and we’ll head on up there,” he said.

Dale Romans was more equivocal when saying Shackleford will run in either the Cigar Mile or the Grade 1, $400,000 Clark Handicap, the Churchill fall showcase set for its 138th running Friday. He said a final decision may not be made until entries are taken this week.

Groupie Doll and Shackleford are coming off disparate BC results at Santa Anita. Groupie Doll stormed to her fifth straight victory when taking the Filly and Mare Sprint in sensational fashion, while Shackleford, a multiple Grade 1-winning earner of more than $2.8 million, stumbled from the gate before finishing seventh in the Dirt Mile.

Whatever happens this weekend, Groupie Doll will get a rest afterward, either back home in Kentucky or in south Florida before racing again at 5, while Shackleford will be making his final start before heading off to stud duty at Darby Dan Farm near Lexington.

Meanwhile, weights for the 1 1/8-mile Clark were released Friday, with Game On Dude being assigned 125 pounds by racing secretary Ben Huffman. Game On Dude, however, will not come from California to run, and that means Shackleford, with 120, would start as the highweight if Romans opts to stay home.

Other Clark probables, with weights, are Neck ‘n Neck, 119; Pool Play, 118; Bourbon Courage, 117; Cease, 117; Take Charge Indy, 117; Lunar Victory, 116; Eye of the Leopard, 115; Mission Impazible, 115; and Fast Falcon, 113. Several more from a nominations list of 30 are regarded as possible, including Infrattini, Middie, and Stealcase. Entries will be drawn Tuesday.