LOUISVILLE — Musical Romance has the 2011 Eclipse Award for champion female sprinter. Groupie Doll, however, has her number.
In their second consecutive meeting, Groupie Doll left her champion rival and the rest of the competition to fight it out for second best. Fred Bradley's homebred dynamo moved to the lead around the final turn and drew off for a 71/4-length victory in the Grade I, $334,500 Humana Distaff in track-record time at Churchill Downs.
The Humana Distaff was one of the five graded stakes on the undercard of Saturday's Kentucky Derby.
Trained by Buff Bradley, Groupie Doll had just earned her first Grade I score in the Vinery Madison at Keene-land on April 12, a race in which Musical Romance was fourth. With Rajiv Maragh up, Groupie Doll was even more emphatic as she kicked on over the speed-favoring track, hitting the wire in 1:20.44 for the 7-furlong test.
"I think she was even more impressive today than she was at Keeneland," Buff Bradley said.
Musical Romance, winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill in November, was second with Magical Feeling third. Sassy Image, the defending race winner, was sixth in her first start since August.
Woodford ReserveTurf Classic
Dale Romans-trained Little Mike showed speed was also holding strong on the turf course Saturday. The 5-year-old Spanish Steps gelding wired the field in the Grade I, $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, winning the 11⁄8-mile race over a deep bunch that featured Grade I winners Turallure, Data Link, and Get Stormy.
Little Mike beat another front-runner, Get Stormy, to take the lead going into the first turn and was allowed to get away with an opening half in :48.27. As a result, jockey Joe Bravo had plenty of horse left in the lane, leaving Slim Shadey 21/2 lengths back in second with another Grade I winner in Brilliant Speed third.
Final time for the race over a course rated good was 1:48.81.
Churchill Downs Stakes
In a showdown between a champion and a classic winner in the Grade II, $441,600 Churchill Downs Stakes, it was the latter who prevailed as 2011 Preakness Stakes hero Shackleford outlasted reigning champion male sprinter Amazombie in the 7-furlong test.
The popular Shackleford had lost his past seven starts following his Preakness triumph and was most recently third in the Grade I Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on April 7.
After prompting wicked early factions of :21.96 and :44.17 along with Will's Wildcat, Amazombie — winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint last November — and Shackleford advanced in tandem around the final turn and were still matching strides through the length of the stretch.
Shackleford, the 9-to-5 favorite, wouldn't yield on the inside path under jockey Jesus Castanon, drawing clear to hit the wire one length in front in a time of 1:21.06 over a track rated fast.
Churchill Distaff Turf Mile
The Shug McGaughey-trained Hungry Island earned her first victory since last August when she ran down Tapitsfly in deep stretch to win the Grade II, $223,400 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile by a length.
Hungry Island had finished third behind Marketing Mix in her past two outings, including her seasonal debut at Keeneland on April 11. Marketing Mix was sent off as the 3-2 favorite in the Turf Mile but she faded after sitting second down the backside through a half in :48.68.
Hungry Island, meanwhile, came running down the middle of the track after Tapitsfly had overtaken pacesetter Daisy Devine for a short advantage in the lane, finishing the race in 1:36.20 over a course rated good.
Under strong urging from jockey Joel Rosario, Great Attack rallied from well back in the two-wide path down the Churchill stretch to collar pacesetter Bridgetown in the Grade III, $150,250 Twin Spires Turf Sprint going 5 furlongs.
Great Attack ended up earning his second win in his past three starts after rating toward the back of the 12-horse field through an opening quarter in :21.55 before unleashing a furious kick to hit the wire in :56.61 over a course rated good.
Bridgetown held for second with Cactus Son third.
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com.