03/13/2004 1:00AM

Madcap Escapade much the best

Madcap Escapade, with Jerry Bailey aboard, flies ahead of the rest to win the Grade 2 $150,000 Stonerside Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Madcap Escapade electrified a Florida Derby Day crowd of 25, 505 by breezing to an easy 4 3/4-length victory over La Reina in the Grade 2, $150,000 .

The win was the third one-sided victory in a row for Madcap Escapade, a 3-year-old daughter of Hennessy who is owned by Bruce Lunsford and trained by Frank Brothers. She had captured her first two starts by a combined 21 3/4 lengths.

Madcap Escapade broke a step slow but quickly recovered to take command leaving the chute of the seven-furlong Forward Gal. She set fractions of 21.85 seconds and 44.61 while under snug restraint by jockey Jerry Bailey. She shook off Wacky Patty near the five-sixteenths pole, opened a commanding advantage in midstretch, and was throttled down by Bailey while cruising through the final furlong.

La Reina, a Grade 3 winner at 2, was easily second-best in her 3-year-old debut, finishing 2 1/4 lengths in front of Frenchglen.

Madcap Escapade ($2.40) covered the distance in 1:22.97. She was responsible for a minus show pool of $135,395.

"She's a very exciting filly - probably the most talented filly I've ever trained," said Brothers. "At some point she's going to get tested and the water will get deeper down the line, but she's a Grade 2 winner now, which is huge."

Brothers said that if all goes well, Madcap Escapade would make her next start at Keeneland either in the seven-furlong Beaumont Stakes on April 8 or in the Grade 1, 1 1/16-mile Ashland on April 3. The Ashland would be her first start around two turns and could set up a possible confrontation with Halfbridled, last year's champion 2-year-old filly.

"I think she has a pretty good chance to go long, although with her style it's no cinch," said Brothers. "Keeneland has historically been the place to try stretching one out since it's a fast track with quick turns."

Skip Away: Newfoundland prevails

Newfoundland outgamed Supah Blitz through the final sixteenth of a mile to register a half-length victory in the Grade 3, $100,000 Skip Away Handicap. Bowman's Band, the 7-5 favorite, finished a well-beaten third.

Newfoundland, who won the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Handicap over a sloppy track in his previous start, paid $14 after running 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.26. The victory was the fourth on the day for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez.

Marshua's River: Dedication draws clear

Dedication ended her racing career on a winning note, rallying to a convincing two-length victory over Ocean Drive in the $67,350 Marshua's River Stakes.

She is scheduled to go to the breeding shed this spring.

Dedication got a perfect rail-skimming trip from jockey Edgar Prado before readily drawing clear once settling into the stretch. Ocean Drive rallied to finish second, a length in front of Vespers.

Dedication, who was beaten a neck by Heat Haze in the Grade 1 Matriarch to close out her 2003 campaign, paid $4.40 after running a mile in 1:37.87 over a firm turf course. She is trained by Christophe Clement.