01/25/2012 3:47PM

Gulfstream: Groupie Doll challenges Boys At Tosconova in stakes-caliber feature

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Groupie Doll (left), second in the Raven Run at Keeneland, will prep for the Grade 3 Sabin on Feb. 25 by facing males in Friday's feature at Gulfstream.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Buff Bradley said he’s not especially fond of running fillies against males but he made an exception to that rule when he entered his talented Groupie Doll against the boys in Friday’s fourth-level optional $100,000 claiming feature at Gulfstream Park.

Groupie Doll is not only meeting males, she will be facing a field that includes Grade 1 winner Boys At Tosconova, who is using the race as a final prep for the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 10. Bradley also has another goal in mind for Groupie Doll beyond Friday’s main event, the Grade 3 Sabin, on Feb. 25.

Groupie Doll is coming off an impressive 2 1/2-length win over optional $100,000 claiming fillies and mares going a mile here on Dec. 22. The race marked the first time Groupie Doll had raced on dirt since finishing second in the Charles Town Oaks on Sept. 17 and the first time she had been ridden by Calvin Borel.

“It wasn’t our initial plan to be in this race or run against the boys,” said Bradley. “I’ve been trying to get her into a filly and mare allowance race for a week but it never went. My main goal with her right now is the Sabin. It’s a month out and I wanted to get a race into her rather than drill her into the stakes. She’s really on it right now and she needs a race more than anything.”

Bradley said he believes Groupie Doll’s win here was probably her best race to date.

“She’s had a couple of nice races, including the Gardenia, but I was impressed by the way she did it last time and Calvin was impressed too,” said Bradley. “Obviously this is going to be a tougher race. It’s like a stakes race. I never expected to be running against a horse like Boys At Tosconova but I have confidence in her and expect her to run very well.”

Boys At Tosconova was also an allowance winner earlier in the meet, outlasting Where’s Sterling by a length to register his second straight victory on the comeback trail. Boys At Tosconova, winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful and runner-up behind Uncle Mo in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 2, was sidelined 11 months before returning to action on Oct. 8.

Boys at Tosconova blew out for Friday’s headliner by going an easy three furlongs in 36.19 seconds here Wednesday.

“He’s ready to roll,” said trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. “Our goal with him now is the Gulfstream Park Handicap and I didn’t want to wait all that time to run him again so this is a perfect spot for him. So far he’s done everything he’s supposed to have done. If he had freaked off the bench we might have looked for something more from him at this point. But I’m very happy to have this spot for him on Friday.”

Groupie Doll and Boys At Tosconova figure to receive their stiffest challenge from Our Dark Knight, runner-up to the odds-on Trickmeister in the Harlans Holiday overnight handicap on Dec. 17.

El Kingdom, Imperial Czar, and Flatter This complete the field.