11/08/2013 8:27PM

Groupie Doll to run in Cigar Mile for new owner, Mandy Pope, and trainer Buff Bradley

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Barbara D. Livingston
Groupie Doll wins her second consecutive Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. She has since been sold at the Keeneland November sale for $3.1 million to Mandy Pope's Whisper Hill Farm.

Two-time Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Groupie Doll and her trainer and co-breeder William "Buff" Bradley will have the opportunity to complete a bit of unfinished business when the recently sold mare contests the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Nov. 30 at Aqueduct.

It was announced Friday that the 5-year-old Bowman’s Band mare will be pointed to the race, and will run in the colors of Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm after Pope bought her for $3.1 million at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale Wednesday. Groupie Doll was sold by co-breeders Buff Bradley and his father, Fred, and Carl Hurst and Brent Burns.

The Cigar Mile is a $500,000 race but as a Breeders' Cup winner Groupie Doll will compete for the winner's share of a $1 million purse under a bonus put into place by the New York Racing Association.

Groupie Doll lost last season’s Cigar Mile by a nose to Stay Thirsty, snapping a five-race win streak that included three Grade 1 victories, capped with a win in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint that locked up her Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter. This year, Groupie Doll has won two of four starts, repeating in the Filly and Mare Sprint on Nov. 2, two days before arriving on the Keeneland sale grounds.

At the time of her purchase, Pope - whose burgeoning broodmare band includes 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace and Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty - said her intent was to retire Groupie Doll. However, less than 48 hours later, she has changed course.

“When I purchased Groupie Doll, my sole intention was for her to be retired and become a mom,"  Pope said. “However, after spending time with her and speaking with her previous connections, I felt that she may still want to run a few more races. I asked Dr. Larry Bramlage go over her from her nose to her tail, and he felt there was no reason for her career to end now.”

Moments after Pope's winning bid on Groupie Doll, Buff Bradley approached her to discuss the mare, and handed her a business card in the event she decided to start her new purchase again. Bradley will indeed saddle Groupie Doll – who has already been shipped to New York – in the Cigar Mile.

“To insure that Groupie Doll continues to receive the exact same care and attention to which she is accustomed, I have made the decision that Buff Bradley and his team will oversee the remainder of her racing career,” Pope said.

Pope's purchase of Groupie Doll on Wednesday was greeted with relief by her connections. As the mare left the barn, Buff Bradley, exercise rider Jada Schlenk, and groom and assistant Matt Hebert bid emotional farewells, patting and hugging the mare. Bradley and Schlenk walked arm-in-arm as they followed the mare to the walking ring, leading a sizable entourage of onlookers

“I kind of had to hold myself together,” Bradley, whose father was also in attendance at the sale pavilion, said Wednesday. “This is the best possible ending, really, for Mandy to get her. We’re really thrilled with that.”

Others notables possible for  the Cigar Mile include Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents; Todd Pletcher’s Grade 1 winners Verrazano and Capo Bastone, along with his graded stakes winner Forty Tales; Woodward Stakes winner Alpha; and stakes winner Gentlemen’s Bet, third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.