02/27/2004 1:00AM

'Escapade' to Forward Gal


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Madcap Escapade, the brilliant winner of the Old Hat Stakes here on Feb. 14, will make her next start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Stonerside Forward Gal Stakes at seven furlongs on March 13, trainer Frank Brothers said Friday.

Brothers did not even nominate Madcap Escapade to next Saturday's Bonnie Miss Stakes at nine furlongs, saying he would prefer to wait before stretching the filly out in distance.

"Right now, if everything remains good we're looking at running in the Forward Gal," Brothers said. "Timing is really on our side; it's a month between races. Seven-eighths gets her a little further. The timing's good, it's a graded race. The water gets deeper, as they say, but if she'd be fortunate enough to run well in there it'd be a feather in her cap.''

Madcap Escapade burst onto the scene on Jan. 4, winning a six-furlong maiden race by 10 lengths while covering the distance in 1:09.38. She stepped up into stakes company in the Old Hat and put forth another scintillating performance, winning by 11 3/4 lengths and setting a stakes record of 1:08.85 in the process.

Madcap Escapade, a daughter of Hennessy, was expected to have her first breeze since the Old Hat on Saturday.

"The weather changed her schedule a little bit," said Brothers, referring to Wednesday's heavy rains that created a wet track for two days. "But, it's no big deal."

Valid Video eyes Richter Scale

Valid Video, who finished third in the Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 24, is expected to return in next Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship.

Valid Video worked six furlongs in 1:17.20 Thursday at the Classic Mile training center in Ocala.

"He breezed well and came back well," trainer Dennis Manning said Friday morning. "At this time, as long as he stays healthy, we're coming."

Manning said owner Mac Fehsenfeld turned down an invitation to run Valid Video in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 27 at Nad Al Sheba Race Course.

"At this time, he doesn't want to go out of the country," Manning said.

Valid Video was among the top 3-year-old sprinters in the country in 2003, winning four of seven starts including the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga. He finished last in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, but came out of that race with an injury to a stifle, Manning said.

Valid Video made his 4-year-old debut in the Sunshine Millions Sprint but had to settle for third after being farther back than usual in the early stages. Manning said he expects a sharper performance next weekend.

"I'm going into this race Saturday very confident in my horse's ability to go out and do what he's supposed to do,'' Manning said. "He's training very well."

Among the 17 nominated horses expected to run in the Richter Scale are Coach Jimi Lee, Gygistar, Lion Tamer, and Wacky for Love. Possible runners include Alert, Christine's Outlaw, Voodoo, and True Direction.

On Friday, Wacky for Love worked four furlongs in 48.60 seconds at Gulfstream Park under jockey Jose Santos. Wacky for Love, trained by Keith Shirota, comes off a sharp second-place finish in the King Cotton Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 31.

"The horse is doing good," Shirota said. "You just hope he's good enough; he's got to step up now. Without Alke, without Cajun Beat, Valid Video is going to be the horse to beat. I figure we'll take a shot when all the big boys are away."

Strong Hope rounding into shape

Strong Hope, unraced since finishing third in the Travers last August, worked six furlongs in 1:14 Friday morning at Palm Meadows. It was his seventh recorded workout since rejoining trainer Todd Pletcher's Palm Meadows stable in January.

Pletcher's intermediate goals for the 4-year-old son of Grand Slam are the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on April 10 and the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on May 31.

Pletcher said he would like to get a race into Strong Hope before the Carter, but isn't sure if he'll have the colt ready in time.

"The Artax is a possibility," Pletcher said, referring to a seven-furlong, $100,000 stakes run here on March 27, "although that's a little close to the Carter."

Strong Hope, owned by Eugene Melnyk, won 5 of 7 starts at 3, including the Grade 2 Jim Dandy in which he beat Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, and the Grade 2 Dwyer. His connections stopped on him after the Travers because they didn't think he fit either the Breeders' Cup Sprint or the Breeders' Cup Classic and they wanted to have a fresh horse for this year with the major goal being the Met Mile.

"I think he's rounding into shape," Pletcher said. "The way it unfolded when he came in from the farm it took maybe a couple of weeks longer than we thought to get him ready. But I tried to get him there without trying to press."

Alke works toward Dubai trip

Alke, who upset Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Cajun Beat in the Grade 3 Deputy Minister Handicap on Feb. 7, worked four furlongs in 49.20 seconds Friday at Palm Meadows. Pletcher said he is pointing Alke to the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen.

Alke is 4 for 4 since coming to Pletcher's barn last fall.

Perfect Soul gears up for Keeneland

Perfect Soul, who won last fall's Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, will make his seasonal debut at that Lexington, Ky., track in the Grade 2, $200,000 Maker's Mark Mile on April 9.

Perfect Soul has not run since finishing ninth in the Breeders' Cup Mile when he was saddled with post 14. On Friday, Perfect Soul worked four furlongs in 51.60 seconds at Payson Park, his eighth workout of the year.

"He's doing very, very well, looks great, and I'm very happy with him right now,'' trainer Roger Attfield said.