As we saw in her bold finish of the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie Stakes at Gulfstream, Groupie Doll has all the requirements of a racehorse. She is fast, game, and focused. When asked for her best, she gives it, and Groupie Doll has a lot to give.
The Hurricane Bertie was probably the final race of her career, and Groupie Doll showed that she is in as good a form as ever with her 12th victory in 23 starts. Coming from behind with her usual run, the powerful 6-year-old strode away from her competition to win by seven lengths in 1:14.68 for six and a half furlongs.
Bred in Kentucky by Fred Bradley and William “Buff” Bradley, Groupie Doll is the best offspring of the Dixieland Band stallion Bowman’s Band. The sire was a G2 stakes winner of more than $1.3 million, and Bowman’s Band ran second in the G1 Metropolitan Handicap and Oaklawn Handicap, as well as finishing third in the G1 Whitney, Woodward, and Pimlico Special.
Buff Bradley recalled that he went to Lane’s End Farm to see some new stallions there and “was walking through the barn when I saw this big chestnut, and they said Bowman’s Band had just come down from Maryland. I liked his looks, saw what he had done when I got home, and decided we would breed some mares to him.”
Groupie Doll was the result.
An Eclipse Award winner and successful four times at the G1 level, Groupie Doll has some credits that place her ahead of her sire as a racehorse. He was a ruggedly made horse with scope and a robust constitution. These he passed on to his famous daughter, who is the best of the stallion’s 13 stakes winners (seven percent to live foals).
Groupie Doll is out of the Silver Deputy mare Deputy Doll, whom Fred Bradley bought for $25,000 as a yearling at the 1997 Keeneland September sale. Twice a winner from 14 starts, Deputy Doll was a “nice-looking mare with a good hip and a strong shoulder,” according to Buff Bradley’s wife, Kim.
Buff Bradley said that “Deputy Doll was all class, and we thought she was something special, but she had problems; so we had to stop on her,” and Deputy Doll was an automatic choice as a broodmare because of the trainer’s regard for her talent.
The mare was unlucky, however, getting some foals who did not have the best conformation or constitution. After four so-so foals, the big, correct, and tough Bowman’s Band seemed like a choice who might bring out the best in the dam, and the mating worked so well that Kim Bradley said, “Groupie Doll’s nickname at the farm was Beyonce because she was so beautiful.”
After producing her subsequent champion, Deputy Doll’s ill luck continued. The mare had difficulty getting in foal, never produced another foal, and before Groupie Doll’s class was revealed, the mare was given to the driver who hauls horses for the farm. Deputy Doll was later struck by lightning and died.
Groupie Doll turned around that run of ill fortune on the racetrack, and over three seasons of racing, she won 11 races for the Bradleys and earned more than $2.5 million. As breeders of horses they raced, the Bradleys had a practical decision to make, and they sold Groupie Doll at last year’s Keeneland November sale to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm for $3.1 million.
Raising her value to such a level required some serious racing on the part of Groupie Doll. The mare didn’t race at 2 because she was growing and had “some minor issues,” Buff Bradley said. “She always trained well, but we took her back to the farm, turned her out, Kim looked after her, and we started Groupie Doll back training at Keeneland in the winter.”
Groupie Doll just got better and better.
The mare clearly responded well to Bradley’s training, and he said, “When we get them fit, we don’t drill on them. When she got to racing, we didn’t gallop her more than a mile and a quarter, but she did a lot of jogging. That helped to keep her fresh and happy.”
Now 6, Groupie Doll has stayed happy and sound with a racing career that has propelled her to the top of her division and made her a racehorse of international interest. The trainer said that she shares some traits with his earlier star racehorse, Brass Hat.
“They both are aware of themselves. They will pose for a camera, will stand on the track, take everything in and relax. They don’t let little things bother them, and they can overcome things in racing too,” Buff Bradley concluded.
That focus and self-possession allowed both horses to put their energy into racing and to make the best of the opportunities they were presented. What more can we hope for in horses or humans?
**The preceding post was first published last week at Paulick Report.
In the meantime, Groupie Doll has left Buff Bradley’s training barn at Gulfstream Park and is spending some time for resting and light activity at Goldmark in Ocala. Plans for the rest of the year for the champion mare have not been announced.