ARCADIA, Calif. — Considering the expectations and prestige that hung in the balance, Buff Bradley was a remarkably calm man in the moments before Saturday's $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
"I'm not nervous," the trainer, co-breeder, and co-owner of overwhelming favorite Groupie Doll said in the Santa Anita paddock. "I just want to get going already."
As the chestnut filly that Bradley helped foal began beating her foes into submission with lengthening strides, the collected confidence gave way to decades of emotion spilling from his eyes and into the arms of everyone within reach.
Forty-five years after owner Fred Bradley obtained the family's Frankfort-based farm, he and his son Buff celebrated their first Breeders' Cup winner and likely divisional champion when their homebred filly Groupie Doll dominated the Filly and Mare Sprint by 41/2 lengths.
Though the Bradleys campaigned their popular homebred, Grade I-winning gelding Brass Hat, Groupie Doll has taken the father-son, owner-trainer duo to unprecedented levels. The 4-year-old daughter of Bowman's Band has now won five consecutive races, including three Grade I wins, to all but lock up the 2012 Eclipse Award for champion female sprinter.
"You live this dream and that's what we're doing right now," Buff Bradley said. "It's really special to reach this point. My dad worked a long time for this, we've worked a lot of hours on the farm. When you get here and you know how special this one is ... it's exceptional. "
Despite traveling wide throughout the 7-furlong race, jockey Ravij Maragh never doubted that 3-5 favorite Groupie Doll was in position to strike.
After moving up to third around the turn, she overtook eventual runner-up Dust and Diamonds and came home under little asking to win in 1:20.72. Defending race winner and sprint champion Musical Romance was sixth.