05/03/2012 11:12AM

Churchill Downs: Humana Distaff contender Groupie Doll latest star for Bradley family

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Groupie Doll, improved greatly with the addition of blinkers to win last month's Vinery Madison at Keeneland.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Bradley family, principally father Fred and son Buff, have a farm near Frankfort. They have a handful of mares they breed each year to blue-collar stallions. And work on the farm gets done by someone whose last name is Bradley.

“We’ve got a few mares still left to foal,” trainer Buff Bradley said the other day. “We don’t have a night watchman. Dad watches the first half of the night, me the second.”

One thing that differentiates the Bradleys from other similar family operations is the luck they have had. First came homebred Brass Hat, a son of the $3,500 stallion Prized who earned more than $2.1 million on the racetrack, and now there is Groupie Doll, a daughter of the $5,000 stallion Bowman’s Band who is up to almost $500,000 in purse earnings early in her 4-year-old season. She can add to that total Saturday and win her second straight Grade 1 race when she starts in the $300,000 Humana Distaff on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

“It’s hard to believe after Brass Hat we got her,” said Bradley. “They were just bred to be nice, solid racehorses.”

Groupie Doll is more than that. She showed signs of being a special talent last summer in Kentucky, winning a maiden race and a first-level allowance before romping in the Grade 3 Gardenia at Ellis Park. Over the winter at Gulfstream Park, Groupie Doll was impressive in a pair of allowance-race starts, one against males, but seemed slightly lacking when third in a pair of graded stakes starts. Bradley added blinkers to her equipment package, and Groupie Doll aired in the Grade 1 Vinery Madison Stakes on April 12 at Keeneland.

“I wish we would have started using blinkers a little sooner,” he said.

Groupie Doll is part of a good field of nine entered in the Distaff, which, at seven furlongs, is the same distance as the Madison. The race includes the one-two finishers in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill, Musical Romance and Switch, as well as last year’s Humana Distaff winner, Sassy Image.

Musical Romance won the Inside Information two starts ago, a race in which Groupie Doll was third, but could only finish a fading fourth in the Madison. Switch hasn’t raced since the Breeders’ Cup and makes her first start at age 5 over a track where she has been second in both her races.

Sassy Image hasn’t raced since Aug. 27, when she bore out badly and basically was eased across the wire when favored in the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga. Sassy Image came out of the race with a chipped hind ankle, an injury probably sustained leaving the gate awkwardly, but she has been posting bullet five-furlong drills at Churchill since late March.

“She trains hard, and she’ll do whatever you ask of her,” said trainer Dale Romans. “This race has been the goal since the time we started back with her.”


Humana Distaff (G1), Post Time: 3:49 ET Saturday

Purse: $300,000; 7 furlongs





ML Odds


Magical Feeling

A. Iwinski

R. Alvarado, Jr.



Fantasy of Flight

J. Terranova, II

J. Velazquez



Sassy Image

D. Romans

R. Albarado



Salty Strike

K. McPeek

J. Leparoux



Mildly Offensive

C. Gaines

J. Rosario



Groupie Doll

W. Bradley

R. Maragh




J. Sadler

M. Smith



Musical Romance

W. Kaplan

J. Leyva



Hot Summer

D. Fawkes

R. Bejarano