04/09/2006 11:00PM

Josh's Madelyn at mercy of pace


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Larry Jones is the first to admit that is one-dimensional. As the trainer of a from-the-clouds closer whose fortunes are inextricably linked with how the race unfolds ahead of her, Jones said, "You always love to see them really mixing it up ahead of her."

Josh's Madelyn, who rallied from far back for her greatest career victory in the Grade 2 Raven Run at the 2004 Keeneland fall meet, will face 10 other fillies and mares Wednesday in the Grade 2 Madison Stakes at Keeneland. And if there isn't enough pace to facilitate her late kick, well, it can't be any worse than in her last race.

"That was something," said Jones, recalling the last start for Josh's Madelyn, the Jan. 21 American Beauty Stakes at Oaklawn Park, where the 5-year-old mare finished second as the 1-2 favorite. "There was absolutely no pace to help us. I mean none. Hopefully, things will be different Wednesday."

Josh's Madelyn, with Terry Thompson to ride, is among a handful of legitimate contenders in what shapes up as a very well matched fifth running of the $200,000 Madison. Other notable starters in the seven-furlong stakes include Flying Glitter, a multiple stakes winner who was second in the Raven Run last fall; Dubai Escapade, a lightly raced Darley Stable filly who has earned big Beyer Speed Figures winning her two starts since being imported to the United States; Ever Elusive, a sharp winner of back-to-back sprints this winter at Gulfstream Park for the ever-dangerous trainer-jockey team of Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez; and Bending Strings, whose form looks weak but who nonetheless is the leading earner in the race with $833,385 in the bank.

As an illustration of the quality the Madison has attracted since it was first offered four years ago, two of its winners also won Grade 1 races: Victory Ride (2002) and Madcap Escapade (2005).

In fact, a victory by Dubai Escapade on Wednesday would keep the Madison in the family, so to speak: Both Madcap Escapade (by Hennessy) and Dubai Escapade (by Awesome Again) were produced by the Saratoga Six mare Sassy Pants, making them half-sisters. Dubai Escapade, with Edgar Prado riding for trainer Eoin Harty, stands an excellent chance if she can duplicate the form she flashed this winter at Gulfstream, where she earned 104 and 96 Beyers.