07/12/2006 11:00PM

Dubai Escapade streaks toward first Grade 1

Adam Coglianese / NYRA
Dubai Escapade, winning the Vagrancy, seeks her sixth straight win in the Princess Rooney.

MIAMI - Thanks to her older sister Madcap Escapade, Dubai Escapade has a shot to become a Grade 1 winner for the first time this weekend.

Madcap Escapade won the 2005 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder, a performance that likely convinced the North American Graded Stakes Committee to elevate the Princess Rooney to Grade 1 status for the first time this summer. On Saturday, Dubai Escapade will go off as the odds-on favorite against six other fillies and mares in the , a six-furlong race that carries a $500,000 purse.

Like Madcap Escapade, Dubai Escapade has blazing speed, which she has used to post five consecutive victories since losing her career debut on turf at 2. Trained by Eoin Harty for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum's Darley Stable, Dubai Escapade is coming off back-to-back one-sided wins, in the Grade 2 Madison Stakes and Vagrancy Handicap, after beginning her 4-year-old campaign with a pair of allowance wins at Gulfstream Park.

"She's doing fantastic, and the Princess Rooney has been our number-one priority since early in the year," said Harty. "The only time she's really been challenged was when I sent her a mile at Gulfstream, and I don't think I had her super fit that day, because she'd missed a lot of training time in between starts due to rain."

Dubai Escapade was never headed in her five wins, but she could face early pace pressure Saturday from Hot Storm, who has captured 6 of her last 7 starts.

"I don't think my filly necessarily has to be on the lead," said Harty. "She has that really strong middle move, which is her dominating piece de resistance. She runs the turn so well, and even if anybody tries to run after her, she just seems to inherit the lead and do it on her own."

Dubai Escapade will be ridden by regular rider Edgar Prado and carry high weight of 122 pounds in the Princess Rooney.

Hot Storm's only loss in the past 10 months came in the Winning Colors Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 27, when she broke poorly and finished sixth. She rebounded with a 1 1/2-length triumph in the Saylorville Stakes at Prairie Meadows on June 30.

"It's unusual to come back in just two weeks, but she's training so well she's telling us she's on top of her game, and now is the time to take a shot against Grade 1 competition," said Dallas Stewart, who trains Hot Storm for owner Robert Adams.

Hot Storm will carry 117 pounds with David Flores aboard in the Princess Rooney.

Leave Me Alone easily defeated Hot Storm last summer here in the Grade 3 Azalea Breeders' Cup, in which she scored a nose decision over Hide and Chic. Leave Me Alone followed with a 7 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Test Stakes, but has gone winless in seven subsequent tries. She finished sixth behind Dubai Escapade in the Vagrancy.

Completing the lineup are Ebony Breeze, winner of the Grade 3 Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap in her last start; Prospective Saint, the local division leader; and Malibu Mint and Annika Lass.