Groupie Doll impressing in Saturday's Humana Distaff at Churchill DownsPICTURE: Equisport
Groupie Doll smashes record to land Grade 1
Report: USA, Saturday
Churchill Downs: Humana Distaff (Grade 1)
7f, dirt, 4yo+ f/m
RISING star Groupie Doll (Buff Bradley/Rajiv Maragh) broke the track record with a dazzling performance in the Humana Distaff, the first of three Grade 1s on the Kentucky Derby card.
Speed has been playing well over the Derby weekend, and so it proved again here as Groupie Doll travelled easily stalking the pace before taking over at will on the far turn.
The four-year-old daughter of Bowman's Band powered right away from her rivals to score by more than seven lengths over Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Musical Romance, who never laid a glove on the winner.
The clock stopped at 1min20.44sec, breaking a track record of 11 years' standing and offering a testament to the speed-favouring nature of the surface this weekend at Churchill Downs.
Groupie Doll was completing back-to-back Grade 1 victories after her success last month in the Vinery Madison on the Keeneland Polytrack.
"The blinkers have really helped," said trainer Buff Bradley. "I think she's starting to figure things out," he added, with a trace of understatement.
Also on Saturday . . .
Churchill Downs: Churchill Downs Stakes (Grade 2)
7f, dirt, 4yo+
Last year's Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford (Dale Romans/Jesus Castanon) gained his first victory since that Classic after a pulsating stretch battle with Breeders' Cup Sprint victor Amazombie.
Dale Romans: "This is special"PICTURE: Edward Whitaker
The pair overwhelmed front-running Will's Wildcat as they rounded the far turn, after which Amazombie took the lead only for 9-5 favourite Shackleford to fight back up on the rail with the gamest of displays.
The four-year-old took the $400,000 contest by a length, with the principals well clear of the remainder.
"The horse on the outside came on top of me and he fought back," said winning rider Castanon. "You couldn't ask for better - he's back!"
Trainer Dale Romans added: "This is special, I tell you. He's the big horse in our barn, the Grade 1 winner. Every race he tries so hard. He's been in nine Grade 1s and he's still the star of the barn." The finishing time for the 7f on a fast track was 1min21.06sec.
Churchill Downs: Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (Gr1)
1m1f, turf, 4yo+
'Jersey Joe' Bravo has had his critics on the bigger stages but nobody could fault him here as he partnered 12-1 outsider Little Mike (Dale Romans) to an all-the-way victory on rain-softened turf. With ten wins from 17 career starts, the five-year-old boasts both a prolific win record and an excellent strike-rate.
However, he had never before won above Grade 3 level until his regular jockey Bravo nicked this from the front. The former Stan Moore-trained Slim Shadey posted another sound effort for California-based Simon Callaghan to take second in a race where nothing was seen with any chance from off the pace.