02/09/2014 2:48PM

Gulfstream Park: Groupie Doll goes out a winner in Hurricane Bertie

Tom Keyser
Groupie Doll, a two-time Eclipse Award winner, takes the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Sunday to cap her career.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – As good as Groupie Doll was in winning her career finale Sunday – and she was sensational – owner Mandy Pope has to be tempted to run the 6-year-old mare another time or two this year, doesn’t she?

“Well, this was our plan,” Pope said, referring to the Hurricane Bertie being the last race for Groupie Doll. She then added with a laugh: “And it’d be nice to stick to a plan for once.”

Groupie Doll crushed the opposition in the Grade 3, $200,000 Hurricane Bertie at Gulfstream Park, winning by seven lengths after trailing early and passing all six of her rivals with ease. It was a raw display of superiority, as jockey Rajiv Maragh asked very little of the two-time female sprint champion after it became obvious that she would win comfortably.

Groupie Doll returned $2.80 as a huge favorite after finishing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.68 over a fast track. Five Star Momma was second, and Wildcat Lily was third.

“I’m happy for the mare, and I’m just so happy to be part of this experience,” said Pope, who purchased Groupie Doll at auction for $3.1 million on Nov. 6, four days after the mare won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint for the second straight year to clinch a second straight divisional Eclipse Award.

[Clocker Reports: Get Mike Welsch’s clocker reports from Gulfstream Park and Palm Meadows]

There was conjecture after the Breeders’ Cup that Groupie Doll had run her last race, but under the pink and gold silks of Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm, the mare ran back four weeks later in the Cigar Mile, finishing fourth, with Pope eventually announcing that the Hurricane Bertie would be her last hurrah.

For weeks, Pope and trainer Buff Bradley had insisted that the Hurricane Bertie would indeed be the mare’s swan song. Accordingly, the Gulfstream crowd paid the chestnut mare due homage, giving her a warm, long, and loud ovation as she entered the winner’s circle for the 12th time following her 23rd career start.

“That was really nice,” said Bradley, who co-bred and co-owned Groupie Doll before she was sold. “It was a great way to send her off. Just tremendous. What a great, great mare she’s been for me and my family.”

Groupie Doll earned $120,000 and retires with a bankroll of $2,648,850. She is booked to be bred to Tapit later this month.

The $2 exacta (1-5) paid $21.80, the $1 trifecta (1-5-7) returned $61.10, and the 10-cent superfecta (1-5-7-2) was worth $17.44.