07/13/2012 4:42PM

Groupie Doll to miss Saratoga's Ballerina due to minor injury

Barbara D. Livingston
A minor hock injury will prevent Groupie Doll from running in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga on Aug. 24.

With Saratoga beginning next Friday, many Kentucky horsemen planning to run horses there have already shipped their runners northward or are soon planning to do so. But one filly who won’t be making the trip to Saratoga is Groupie Doll, who had originally been targeted for the Ballerina Stakes after scoring back-to-back Grade 1 victories in the Vinery Madison and Humana Distaff this spring in Kentucky.

Trainer and co-owner Buff Bradley said that after a planned vacation at his Kentucky farm, Groupie Doll resumed training this summer and came down with a minor hock injury. That physical setback, which she appears over, would require having to rush her to make the Aug. 24 Ballerina, something Bradley said he didn’t want to do.

She is scheduled to resume full training at the first of the week after receiving cold water therapy and other treatments.

Bradley is hopeful the setback will not interfere with her preparations for the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, her end-of-year goal. He and his partners just supplemented her to the Breeders’ Cup program at a cost of $50,000.

His aim now is to race her once before the Breeders’ Cup, in the TCA Stakes at Keeneland Oct. 6 – a Win and You’re In qualifying race for the Filly and Mare Sprint.

“She won a Grade 1 on that track,” Bradley said, referring to the Vinery Madison in April. “So I’m a little more comfortable getting her ready for that race, anyhow.”

Jim Dandy, Haskell options for Neck ‘n Neck

Meanwhile, Grade 3 Matt Winn winner Neck ‘n Neck is already at Saratoga as part of Ian Wilkes’s 13-horse string.

Although absent from the published work tab since winning the Matt Winn at Churchill on June 16, Neck ‘n Neck had a breeze last week, doing so at Skylight Training Center, where works frequently go unpublished.

“He’ll probably work early next week sometime,” Wilkes said of a drill at Saratoga.

The July 28 Jim Dandy at Saratoga or the July 29 Haskell at Monmouth are being considered for his next race.

Joining him as part of Wilkes’s Saratoga string is Fort Larned, winner of the Grade 3 Cornhusker at Prairie Meadows on June 30. He is being targeted for the Grade 1 Whitney on Aug. 4, the trainer said.

Purses up substantially at Kentucky Downs

In addition to Saratoga, another track is planning on offering some eye-opening purses this year – though it might not be the track a person would quickly guess.

Kentucky Downs, located just across the border from Tennessee in the small Kentucky town of Franklin, will offer purses this September of $2.4 million over its select, six-day meet, up sharply from last year, when purses totaled $769,810 during a four-day meet.

Seven stakes with purses totaling $650,000 are on tap at Kentucky Downs, a track that races exclusively on turf and functions for most of the year as a simulcast and alternative gaming center. A year ago, Kentucky Downs offered three stakes worth a collective $250,000.

As usual, the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf is meet highlight, carrying a $200,000 purse for its Sept. 15 running.

The purse increases are fueled by the track’s addition of Instant Racing, a form of gaming that replicates slot machines but is considered by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and state’s Attorney General’s office to be legal and parimutuel, with its results based on previously run races.

The legality of Instant Racing is being challenged in the Kentucky courts by The Family Foundation, a conservative anti-gambling group, and other Kentucky tracks have to this juncture awaited the outcome of the legal challenge before installing the machines.

First-year Kentucky Downs racing secretary Tia Murphy said straight maiden races will be run for $60,000 this fall at the track, with allowances slightly higher. As in the past, claiming races and maiden claiming races will again be a part of the daily racing product, she said.

The track’s condition book could be released as early as next week, pending anticipated Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association approval, Murphy said.

Malibu Holiday favored in Ellis feature

Ellis Park has indirectly benefited from the installation of the machines, receiving an additional $600,000 in Kentucky Thoroughbred Development funds as a result of the activity on the machines at Kentucky Downs.

So races such as the featured eighth race at Ellis Park on Sunday are being run for more money than last year. A first-level allowance, it carries a purse of $33,000 for Kentucky-bred horses – $5,000 higher than a comparable race last year.

The race drew a full field, with Malibu Holiday, twice a third-place finisher at Churchill Downs recently concluded spring/summer meet, being the likely favorite.