01/06/2014 8:14AM

Groupie Doll to Tapit for first mating, Havre de Grace, Plum Pretty, Betterbetterbetter to War Front in 2014

Barbara D. Livingston
Champion Groupie Doll will be bred to Tapit upon her retirement from racing.

Champion Groupie Doll will be sent to Tapit for her initial mating following her imminent retirement, while 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty, and recent sale-topper Betterbetterbetter will be bred to War Front in 2014.

Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm in Citra, Fla., acquired the quartet of mares through a series of high-profile purchases at fall breeding stock sales in 2012 and 2013. Her broodmares are boarded at Wayne and Cathy Sweezey’s Timber Town Stable in Lexington, Ky.

Groupie Doll, the champion female sprinter of 2012 and a contender to repeat in 2013, has been training at GoldMark Farm Ocala, Fla., and will soon be reunited with trainer, co-breeder, and former co-owner William “Buff” Bradley at Gulfstream Park. The 6-year-old Bowman’s Band mare is scheduled to make one final start in 2014, targeting either the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie Stakes on Feb. 9 at Gulfstream Park, or the Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes on Jan. 25 at Santa Anita Park.

Pope bought Groupie Doll for $3.1 million at the 2013 Keeneland November breeding stock sale just four days after the mare won her second edition of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita. Groupie Doll has raced once for her new owner, finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap, which brought her career record to 11 wins in 22 starts for earnings of $2,528,850.

Tapit, a 13-year-old son of Pulpit, stands at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Ky., for an advertised fee of $150,000, tied for the highest in North America. He finished seventh among North American sires by earnings in 2013, with $9,184,114, and his leading runners include 2-year-old champions Hansen and Stardom Bound.

“We wanted to pick a horse that obviously gets a lot of runners,” Pope said. “We want to get her off to a good start. Tapit seems to get horses of all shapes and sizes, but they all seem to run.

“He tends to get sprinters, but he also gets a little bit of distance, and we would like to keep some of the speed there with Groupie Doll,” she continued. “We want her foal to get off to a good start early, and we liked the A.P. Indy line with her, so Tapit was our first choice.”

It will mark the second year that Pope has sent her marquee purchase of the previous fall to Tapit, after Havre de Grace was sent to the stallion for her first mating in 2013. Pope secured the Saint Liam mare for $10 million, a record price for a broodmare prospect, at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale.

After delivering her first foal, Havre de Grace will be sent to War Front, who stands at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky., for an advertised fee of $150,000, tied with Tapit for the highest fee in North America. The 12-year-old Danzig horse finished fifth on the general sire list with progeny earnings of $9,843,961, and tied for second by graded stakes winners with 11.

The leading runners by War Front include Grade/Group 1 winners Declaration of War, Data Link, and The Factor.

However, Pope said that War Front’s biggest draw for her program was the stallion’s potential to help recoup her investments by selling the foals at auction. War Front was among the most popular commercial sires of 2013, with his yearlings averaging $363,076, led by a $2.5-million colt who topped the Keeneland September yearling sale.

“The main appeal, actually, is that he’s so appealing in the sales ring,” Pope said. “Of course, that comes from his offspring getting off to a good start on the racetrack. People in the States like him, and also people from abroad like him, so trying to start these mares off and trying to get some of the foals sold to begin with, this is a good arena to attract good buyers, and if we want to keep them, a good quality racehorse.”

This will mark the second consecutive year that War Front has had a Horse of the Year in his book, as 2010 champion Zenyatta was bred to the sire last spring. The stallion’s book last year also included Take Charge Lady, dam of two Grade 1 winners and considered among the frontrunners to be named Kentucky’s Broodmare of the Year.

Joining Havre de Grace in War Front’s book this year will be two high-profile stablemates, including Betterbetterbetter, who Pope bought for a sale-topping $5.2 million at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton November sale. It will be a return trip for the 5-year-old Galileo mare, who was sold carrying her first foal by War Front. Betterbetterbetter was Group 3-placed during her racing career, with one win in seven starts in England and Ireland for earnings of $47,618.

Plum Pretty was bred to Distorted Humor after being purchased for $4.2 million at the 2012 Keeneland November sale. The 6-year-old Medaglia d’Oro mare won five of 12 starts during her on-track career for $1,688,746, highlighted by the 2011 Kentucky Oaks and the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap the following year.