07/12/2005 11:00PM

Madcap Escapade may yet go long


MIAMI - There were several outstanding performances turned in at Calder's $1.9 million Summit of Speed program on Sunday, not the least of which was Madcap Escapade's easy 5 1/4-length victory over the previously undefeated Happy Ticket in the $500,000 Princess Rooney Handicap.

Madcap Escapade is generally regarded to be among the premier fillies and mares in the country, although her stock slipped a bit following her puzzling fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff Handicap at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day. Her trainer, Frank Brothers, had been hoping to stretch Madcap Escapade out around two turns following the Humana Distaff, but the disappointing performance forced him to reassess those plans and led to her appearance in the six-furlong Princess Rooney.

"That win on Sunday put her back in the game," Brothers said from his Churchill Downs base on Tuesday. "I think it was one of her best races to date. She broke well from the outside post, rated some, and didn't totally run off, as she's been known to do. And as a result, she was able to hold her stride well in the final sixteenth of a mile."

Brothers now has many options and plenty of decisions to make in mapping out Madcap Escapade's itinerary for the next several months. Her victory in the Princess Rooney left her unbeaten and untested in three starts at six furlongs, which makes her a prime candidate for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Brothers, though, is still not ruling out the possibility of trying her at a distance of ground.

"You can make a good case for not changing and a good case for branching out," said Brothers. "Being a filly, it puts her in an awkward position when looking down the road at the Breeders' Cup, because it means she'll either have to run against the boys or at a mile and one-eighth against the girls."

Brothers said he is considering two races at Saratoga - the six-furlong Honorable Miss, a Grade 2 on Aug. 5, and the seven-furlong Ballerina, a Grade 1 on Aug. 27 - for Madcap Escapade's next start.

"The timing of the races is such that we could probably make both if we'd like, but nothing is etched in stone at the moment," said Brothers. "I also still have thoughts about trying her around two turns again and wouldn't rule out the Spinster at Keeneland this fall as a possibility."

Maintenance crew aces job

One of the most noteworthy Summit of Speed performances was delivered not by a horse or rider but by Calder's director of racing surfaces, Steve Cross, and his crew, who miraculously had the main track fast and the grass course in good enough condition to contest the Calder Turf Sprint as scheduled despite several days of torrential downpours, courtesy of Hurricane Dennis.

One of the many consequences of Hurricane Dennis, which passed just off the southwest coast of Florida late Friday evening, was that it caused track management to postpone the Summit of Speed card for 24 hours, not because of track conditions but because of a power outage that affected the entire plant early Saturday morning. Switching the card from Saturday until Sunday ultimately led to a decline of 1,600 in attendance, $370,000 in ontrack handle, and more than $3.6 million in total handle from the previous year's Summit of Speed card.

"Under the circumstances, we did rather well and were lucky to put on the event only one day after the hurricane passed by us," said Calder's president, Ken Dunn. "I'm sure we would have had a higher attendance on a Saturday, but we were able to attract 8,000 fans to see absolutely the best sprinters in the country on this track Sunday."

Silver Wagon may head to Monmouth

Trainer Ralph Ziadie was forced to scratch Grade 1 winner Silver Wagon from the $500,000 Smile Sprint on Sunday because of a bruised foot suffered several days before the race. Coming off a second-place finish behind Ghostzapper in the Met Mile, Silver Wagon would have been among the favorites in the Smile.

"It's nothing serious, and we shouldn't lose too much time, but it was enough to keep him from running on Sunday," said Ziadie. "I was very disappointed to miss this race, since he was doing well and we were coming into the Smile with a lot of confidence."

Ziadie said that if all goes well he might point Silver Wagon for the Grade 3 Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park on July 24.

Hall of Famers sweep graded stakes

The winners of all four graded stakes on Sunday were ridden to victory by different Hall of Fame jockeys.

Jerry Bailey was aboard Madcap Escapade in the Princess Rooney, 2004 inductee Kent Desormeaux guided Leave Me Alone to her exciting win in the Azalea, Mike Smith put up a masterful performance on Woke Up Dreamin in the Smile, and Russell Baze was back in his regular seat atop the undefeated Lost in the Fog in the Carry Back.

Locals shut out in top events

Local horses managed to win two of the eight stakes races on Sunday, although they were shut out in the four graded events. In Summation, the leading 2-year-old on the grounds, had to work hard for the first time before posting a victory in the $75,000 Birdonthewire Stakes, while Southern Cal registered a surprising win in the Turf Sprint over a field that included defending champion Whenthedoveflies.

Hide and Chic came closest to a graded win for the home forces, dropping a tough nose decision to Leave Me Alone following a heart-pulsing stretch duel in the Azalea.