11/06/2013 4:34PM

Keeneland November: Groupie Doll sells to Mandy Pope for $3.1 million


In a popular purchase, reigning Eclipse Award champion female sprinter Groupie Doll was purchased for $3.1 million by Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm during the second session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale Wednesday.

The 5-year-old Bowman’s Band mare, who was bred and owned in majority by Fred Bradley and son William “Buff” Bradley, was among the marquee offerings of the sale, appearing in the ring just four days after her second consecutive victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. The score, by half a length over Judy the Beauty, gave her 11 wins from 21 career starts and pushed her bankroll to $2,478,850 for the Bradleys and co-owners Carl Hurst and Brent Burns.

“She was gorgeous,” said Pope, whose winning bid was greeted with a healthy round of applause. “Obviously, she won $2.4 million, and she was a champion, maybe champion two years in a row. She was elegant, calm and cool. Nothing ever ruffled a feather with her whatsoever, watching her be shown. She just sits there royally and regally taking everything in stride, saying ‘Okay, I’m here. I’m cool.’”

Pope has been building an impressive broodmare band over the last year. She purchased 2011 Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty for $4.2 million at last year’s Keeneland November sale, one day after landing 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace for a record $10 million at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale. Both are boarded at Timber Town Farm near Lexington, Ky., where Groupie Doll will now take up residence.

“She’ll fit right in,” Pope told Buff Bradley in the moments following the sale.

Pope’s latest top-dollar acquisitions, along with Groupie Doll, included Betterbetterbetter, the $5.2-million sale-topper at Monday night’s Fasig-Tipton sale.

“[The broodmare band] grew one today, about four over the weekend, but we’re getting ready to sell about eight later in the week,” Pope said. “I hope to end up with a broodmare band of about 20 of the best quality mares that I could get.”

Groupie Doll arrived on the Keeneland sale grounds Monday. The buzz for the mare’s sale grew steadily in the hour preceding the mare’s arrival in the ring, as a crowd gathered outside of Barn 14, where she was stabled as part of the Trackside Farm consignment. As the call came for Groupie Doll to head to the back walking ring, 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.

“I kind of had to hold myself together,” said Bradley, whose father was also in attendance at the sale pavilion.

When Groupie Doll entered the ring, bidding reached the $1 million mark in two bids, climbed steadily to $2.5 million, then paused. The action climbed slowly from there to Pope’s winning bid.

A sense of relief was palpable after the mare was locally purchased.

“She’s going to a place that’s just down the road, and she said that we could come see her,” Buff Bradley said. “So that’s going to make Jada and Matt very happy, and Maria, and Jim, and the whole family. Everyone’s thrilled about that. This is the best possible ending, really, for Mandy to get her. We’re really thrilled with that.”

After finishing third in a pair of graded stakes in Florida to begin her 2012 campaign, Groupie Doll won five consecutive races, annexing, in order, the Grade 1 Madison Stakes, Grade 1 Humana Distaff Stakes, Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes, and Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes. She then roared to a 4 ½ length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, locking up her divisional Eclipse. Her win streak was snapped when she finished second by a nose to Stay Thristy when taking on males in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, her final start of the year.

Unhappy with the way she was training to begin the season, Buff Bradley gave Groupie Doll an extended break. The mare returned in August to finish third in the Grade 3 Gardenia Stakes before again winning the Presque Isle Masters, establishing a track record. She finished third in the Thoroughbred Club of America in her final prep for her Breeders’ Cup title defense.

“Obviously, [Bradley] did a great job,” Pope said. “He knew the mare quite well and knew what she was capable of doing without pushing her too hard. I’m sure he took very good care of her and very well planned to do what she did over her limited racing this year. It was an excellent job on his part – and her part.”

A longtime Thoroughbred breeder and former Kentucky state senator, Fred Bradley purchased Deputy Doll for $25,000 at the 1997 Keeneland September yearling sale. Groupie Doll is by far the most accomplished foal out of the mare, who was struck by lightning and died in early 2012 at age 17.

Groupie Doll is the second standout homebred for the Bradleys, who own Indian Ridge Farm in Frankfort, Ky. They also campaigned Grade 1 winner and fan favorite Brass Hat, who earned over $2.1 million.

“[Groupie Doll’s sale] is going to keep everything moving forward,” Bradley said of the family business. “I’m going to be at Churchill Downs tomorrow morning at 5:30. It’s not going to slow us down any. We’re looking for the next Groupie Doll.”

--additional reporting by Joe Nevills