The conventional thinking is that the Breeders’ Cup World Championships bring down the curtain on the year in racing.
Once mid-November rolls around, drama and excitement usually go into hibernation until the chase for the Triple Crown begins in earnest the following year.
Yet this year, there could be a change in the status quo.
The announcement by trainer and part owner Buff Bradley that Groupie Doll, the year’s best female sprinter, may take on males in the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct dangles the possibility that there could be a dazzling show in the hurricane-ravaged Big Apple on Thanksgiving weekend.
Groupie Doll was one of the brightest stars of Breeders’ Cup weekend, winning the Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) by 4 ½ lengths in a swift 1:20.72, living up to her advance billing as the one horse at the world championships that should be singled in a multi-race wager.
A lock to be named the champion female sprinter at the Eclipse Awards in January, Groupie Doll could elevate her reputation to a higher level if she can stretch out to a mile on Nov. 24 and beat a select field that could include four other Grade 1 stakes winners – unless she scares some of them away.
“She’s so good right now,” said Bradley, who considered giving Groupie Doll a vacation until Gulfstream opens but changed that itinerary after seeing the spunk his horse showed during the Breeders’ Cup Parade of Champions at Churchill Downs on Nov. 11. “It wouldn’t be an easy race, but with as good as she is right now, we’re thinking about it.”
If she goes, it will turn the Cigar Mile into a race worthy of Saratoga in mid-August. Already scheduled to serve as the final race for 2011 Travers Stakes (G1) winner Stay Thirsty, other candidates for the Cigar include Donn Handicap (G1) winner Hymn Book, 2011 Cigar Mile winner Jersey Town, and either Capital Account or 2011 Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) winner Coil from trainer Bob Baffert’s barn.
Weight assignments, which will be announced Sunday, will be the final factor in Bradley’s decision, and if all is well on that front we just might be treated to the excitement of one of the sport’s brightest stars taking on the biggest challenge of her career – with December right around the corner, no less.
Who needs Black Friday when you can get a holiday gift like that?