Trainer Buff Bradley has no designs on burnishing Groupie Doll’s legacy or any such grandiose notions.
He’s not sending his Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner and no-brainer Eclipse Award winner to the Grade I Cigar Mile just to take on males.
He knows a female sprinter has no shot at Horse of the Year.
But at a time when Groupie Doll should be ready for a vacation, she keeps acting like a horse who wants to get back on the job.
And so she will.
A winner of five straight, including the championship-clinching Breeders’ Cup win by 41⁄2 lengths over Dust and Diamonds at Santa Anita, Groupie Doll is the 8-5 morning-line favorite against six males in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.
“She’ll get a vacation after this, regardless, but she’s got something left,” Bradley told the New York Racing Association. “We want to run her when she’s ready to run, and she’s ready right now. The one-turn mile is good for her, and I feel she can be competitive in a race like this.”
The Cigar Mile headlines a four-graded stakes card that marks the last big weekend of 2012.
Also on the schedule is the 117th Grade I Gazelle, which has drawn seven 3-year-old fillies, and a set of juvenile Grade II races, the Remsen for colts and the Demoiselle for fillies.
Bradley said he was in the process of winding Groupie Doll down at his home base of Churchill Downs, but she got caught up in the excitement when the track paraded her and four other Breeders’ Cup winners, Wise Dan, Fort Larned, Little Mike and Tapizar with the horses running in the eighth race on last Sunday’s Churchill card.
It was at that moment that Bradley realized that perhaps she wasn’t quite done with her 2012 season, he said.
“I was looking for another race for her; I wasn’t looking for a race against boys,” he said. “I thought that trip [to California] might knock her back a little, but they had the parade of Breeders’ Cup champions here at Churchill last weekend, and she was just feeling so good. We took her to the track to train her just to let her down a little. I never even thought about the Cigar Mile until that weekend.”
Groupis Doll will break from the outside of 2011 Travers winner Stay Thirsty, Associate, Buffum, Jersey Town, Hymn Book and 2011 Haskell winner Coil.
Jersey Town won the 2010 Cigar Mile and the Grade II Kelso in September, after having finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Dance Card is the slight favorite, at 9-5, in the Gazelle, over 2-1 Book Review, trained by Mechanicville native Chad Brown.
Dance Card has won three start, most recently the listed Bon Cherie at Belmont.
Book Review won an allowance at Saratoga Race Course, then was seventh in the Grade I Test. Since then, she has won two straight, the Charles Town Oaks and Imperial Gesture at Belmont.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has three in the Remsen, the coupled entry of the Mike Repole-owned Micromanage and Overanalyze, and Delhomme, a maiden winner at Belmont who is named after former NFL quarterback Jake Delhomme.
Micromanage broke his maiden at Saratoga, and will start for the first time since fifth to Shanghai Bobby in the Champagne.
Overanalyze also broke his maiden at Saratoga, then lost a stakes to Shanghai Bobby, in his case the Hopeful.
He has since won the Belmont Futurity.
Emollient, a daughter of Empire Maker owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bill Mott, is the even-money favorite in the Demoiselle off a win at Belmont.
She was second at 20-1 at Saratoga before the Belmont win.
Pletcher and Repole have Unlimited Budget in the Demoiselle after she broke her maiden at Saratoga.
Coconut Shrimp will be scratched after finishing sixth in the Lie Low at Aqueduct on Thursday.
SHACKLEFORD WINS FINALE
Shackleford, the 2011 Preakness winner, ended his career Friday with a wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Jesus Castanon, Shackleford broke sharply and led throughout to beat Take Charge Indy by a length, running 11⁄8 miles in 1:49.12.
Sent off as the second choice in the field of nine, Shackleford paid $7.80, $4.80 and $3.40. Take Charge Indy, with Calvin Borel aboard, returned $6.80 and $4.40, and Bourbon Courage paid $4 to show.
The $266,054 winner’s share pushed Shackleford’s career earnings to $3,090,101. It was the third Grade 1 victory in 20 career starts for the Dale Romans trainee owned by Mike Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge.
Shackleford will now stand stud at Darby Dan Farm in Lexington.
Pool Play, the 2011 Stephen Foster winner, was scratched from the Clark Friday morning because he was acting “lethargic,” assistant trainer Norm Casse said.
Pool Play was retired last fall, then returned to racing this year and won the Grade II Hawthorne Gold Cup.
Shackleford finished his career one day after his half-sister, Afleeting Lady, won her third stakes in a row by taking the Grade II Falls City in the Churchill Downs Thanksgiving Day feature.
She has also won the Lady’s Secret at Monmouth Park and the Grade III Turnback the Alarm at Belmont this fall. . . .
Receiving a patient, well-timed ride from jockey Julian Pimentel, Ben’s Cat registered a narrow victory over Immortal Eyes in the inaugural running of the $200,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap at Penn National on Wednesday.
Owned and trained by the legendary King Leatherbury, Ben’s Cat improved to 19-3-1 from 29 starts, exclusively in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Sent off as the 5-1 fifth choice in the field of nine, Ben’s Cat victory even surprised Leatherbury.
“I really didn’t think he was going to win because he’s basically a turf horse,” Leatherbury told the Penn National press office. “There were some really tough horses in here; some of the top sprinters in the country. I was coming to pick up a piece of the purse, hopefully.”
The win marked the 14th stakes score for Ben’s Cat, a 6-year-old gelding by Parker’s Storm Cat, with 11 of those victories coming on the turf. He has earned $1,357,290.
Five of his 14 stakes wins have come by a margin of a nose, head, or neck, a fact that is not lost on Leatherbury.
“He wins all these close races, which is good, but a little scary when you’re watching,” said Leatherbury. “He’s a remarkable horse, what can I say.”
Poseidon’s Warrior, who upset the Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga at odds of 36-1, finished third in the Fabulous Strike. He scratched out of the Fall Highweight at Aqueduct to run at Penn National.
Also on the card, Nicole H, fifth in the Ballerina at Saratoga, won the Daylily as the 2-5 favorite.
Frankie Dettori, one of the world’s best known jockeys, was temporarily suspended from racing in France on Wednesday following a positive drug test.
He tested positive for an unidentified banned substance Sept. 16 after riding at Longchamp. The British-based jockey will not ride anywhere else or make any comment until the matter is settled.
The French association’s medical committee held a hearing Tuesday and said it was temporarily suspending the Italian on “medical grounds.” The panel transferred the case to France Galop, the sport’s governing body in France. It must now decide whether to open its own investigation and extend the suspension.
“Stewards will be studying the file within the next fortnight before deciding what action will be taken in accordance with the rules of racing,” France Galop told The Associated Press.
The suspension lasts at least until Dettori’s next hearing before France Galop, which could take place within the next two weeks, spokesman Julien Pescatore said. No date has been set.
Dettori’s lawyer, Christopher Stewart-Moore, said the jockey “will not be riding anywhere” until the stewards have made their final decision.
“He is grateful to the medical committee for their time, and, in particular, for listening to his explanation of his position,” Stewart-Moore said in a statement.
There are two race meetings at Deauville on Dec. 4-5, but they are not Group 1 and Group 2 races, so Dettori, in effect, misses little in the next two weeks. He competed at the prestigious Arc de Triomphe race last month, finishing seventh on Camelot.
He will end his long-time commitment as Godolphin Racing’s contract rider at the end of 2012.
AROUND THE TRACKS
Today’s features at Churchill Downs are for 2-year-olds, the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club for colts and Grade II Golden Rod for fillies.
The Woodbine-based Uncaptured is the 9-5 favorite in the Kentucky Jockey Club off a win at Churchill in the Iroquois.
Uncaptured has won five of six starts, all at Woodbine except the Iroquois.
“He’s always acted like he was a little on the special side,” trainer Mark Casse said. “It looks like he’s a really nice horse, but we still have to figure out if he’s top of the class.”
Gal About Town is the 5-2 favorite in the Golden Rod off a second to the highly regarded Sign in the Grade II Pocahontas. . . .
Clean Jean, a 4-year-old filly owned by Mark Valentine, was named Finger Lakes Horse of the Year after winning eight of 14 starts at the track.