01/06/2014 9:14AM

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

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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.

Pagani Zonda 8 months ago
For those complaining about Ms. pope's choice to race the mare again. I agree. I said the same thing with Saginaw and Drawing away Stables. Ran that horse into the ground. They say he is happy and sound, so let's race, and then BOOM. Breakdown.
Pagani Zonda 8 months ago
Still waiting for someone to tell me who Tapit sired to win a classic?
Pagani Zonda 8 months ago
Tapit has to be the poorest choice of a stallion you can choose. Just keep breeding for the those fast 2 year olds, and to hell with stamina.
Anonymous 8 months ago
It's one thing for Groupie Doll to race once in 2014 for a clear and prestigious purpose, But to win a Grade III in Florida? To win a California Grade II? That's just stupid. It makes no sense. It makes her owners appear greedy. And it runs the risk of ruining the filly for no gain at all. Mandy Pope ought to be ashamed of using a filly to win something unimportant for no gain whatsoever.
Anonymous 8 months ago
To be fair, the clumsy writing doesn't make it crystal clear who owns Groupie Doll for that last ridiculous start she's to be pointed to. If Ms. Pope is not making that decision, I apologize. The decision, however, remains pointless and stupid.
jake 9 months ago
What's up folks
Greg 9 months ago
If these new to be foals out of these quality mares with a geat stud in War Front dont produce top notch runners , yikes !!
rahman Williams 9 months ago
Yikes
Cindy Albrecht 9 months ago
I so appreciate Ms Pope, for buying our great mares, and keeping them in the U.S.
Anonymous 8 months ago
And should Groupie Doll breaks down in that one last Grade III start, then what?
David 9 months ago
Havre de Grace should be sent to G Cause
Walter 9 months ago
Sounds like she is healthy and happy, so running shouldn't be a problem. Since she is a mare, it's not as big a risk. If you look at recent history, many talented mares have raced in their later years. Zenyatta & Havre de Grace come to mind right away. Mares can only produce 1 foal per year, so it seems owners are willing to run them. They don't take those chances with colts who can produce so many per year.
scott 9 months ago
I'm confused as to why M. Pope is worried about money? She's loaded. She drops the gavel on 10 mil for a filly and is choosing sires by who can get her money back in the sales ring? Enjoy the mare and foals. Nobody spends 10 mil just to try and get it back. I wouldn't sell one foal from any of those mares. I hope these mares enjoy being pregnant for the next decade, sounds like Pope will run the well dry.
not impressed 9 months ago
Unless you're in the QH world then they came use embryo transfer and produce multiple foals by different stallions each year like several racing mares I know of...
cindy carter 3 days ago
In reply to "Scott" where he says "I hope these mares enjoy being pregnant for the next decade" try for the next decade(S)! Until they die foaling or just get too old to be the breeding machine people think they are.