08/02/2013 7:55AM

Groupie Doll to make 2013 debut in Gardenia at Ellis Park

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Barbara D. Livingston
Groupie Doll will use the Gardenia as a launch point toward a repeat attempt in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Trainer Buff Bradley said Friday from Churchill Downs that his star mare Groupie Doll will make her 5-year-old debut next Saturday, Aug. 10, in the Grade 3 Gardenia Stakes, the annual showcase race at Ellis Park in western Kentucky.

Groupie Doll, unraced since late November, has been working forwardly toward the one-mile Gardenia in recent weeks, including a half-mile breeze Friday in 48 seconds over a fast Churchill track.

Bradley intends to use the Gardenia as a launching point for three races she swept last year en route to being named champion female sprinter: the Sept. 9 Presque Isle Downs Masters, the Oct. 6 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland, and the Nov. 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita.

Bradley said two of the compelling reasons for starting off in the Gardenia is that Ellis has been his father’s “hometown track forever” and “this way I don’t have to drill her into the race at Presque Isle.”

Bradley bred Groupie Doll with his father, Fred. The Bradleys own her in partnership with Carl Hurst and Brent Burns.

The $100,000 Gardenia was the first stakes Groupie Doll ever won when she defeated older horses as a 3-year-old in 2011. Now a winner in 9 of 17 starts and $1,657,850, she will be ridden as usual by Rajiv Maragh.

Among the other probables for the Gardenia are Awesome Flower, Draw It, Ice Cream Silence, and Yankee Union. Entries are being taken and drawn Sunday.