HALLANDALE BEACH, FL â€“ Mandy Pope reviewed the field for the Raven Run Stakes (G2) at Keeneland in the fall of 2011 to get an idea where her filly, Funny Sunny, stood among the 11 other 3-year-old fillies that had been entered in the seven-furlong stakes.
She spotted the name, Groupie Doll, in the entries and liked Funny Sunnyâ€™s chances a little bit better.
â€I had noticed her before and I remember saying, â€˜This one doesnâ€™t have any pedigree. We can beat her,â€™â€ recalled Pope Sunday morning on the Gulfstream Park backstretch. â€œSuch was not the case. Mine ended up being retired and this one went on to do fairly well.â€
So well, in fact, that Pope spent $3.1 million to buy Groupie Doll at auction last fall. Pope was on hand at Gulfstream Sunday morning for Groupie Dollâ€™s final workout for her scheduled last career race in next Sundayâ€™s $150,000 Hurricane Bertie, a 6 Â½-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. The two-time Eclipse Award champion breezed four furlongs in 48 1/5 seconds under Jada Schlenk, who has been Groupie Dollâ€™s exercise rider throughout the Buff Bradley-trained mareâ€™s career.
â€œSheâ€™s amazing,â€ Schlenk said. â€œI had to get her off the rail because she wasnâ€™t handling it. She went in the three-path the whole way and at the quarter pole she took off on her own. I didnâ€™t have to ask her. Sheâ€™s amazing.â€
Sundayâ€™s breeze, completed with a 1:02 gallop-out for five furlongs, was the fourth since the two-time Breedersâ€™ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner arrived at Gulfstream.
â€œShe looked great, finished up strong and galloped out good,â€ said Bradley, who bred the daughter of Bowmanâ€™s Band in partnership with his father, Fred, and campaigned her with his father and longtime clients Carl Hurst and Brent Burns before selling her at auction.
Groupie Doll finished a troubled fourth in the Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct on Nov. 30 in her first start under the colors of Popeâ€™s Whisper Hill Farm. Pope wanted to give her new broodmare acquisition a chance to conclude her career on a winning note in the Hurricane Bertie before being bred to Tapit later this winter.
â€œIâ€™m very excited and looking forward to it. I hope itâ€™s going to be a lot of fun for us and all the fans and people here,â€ Pope said. â€œI know sheâ€™ll put on a good performance. She just needs a little luck and for things to go right.â€
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