02/14/2004 1:00AM

Madcap Escapade roars in by double digits

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - On a card designed to showcase south Florida's top 3-year-old colts, it was a 3-year-old filly that arguably turned in the top performance of the afternoon.

Madcap Escapade, fresh off a maiden win in her lone start, demolished eight rivals by 11 3/4 lengths in Saturday's $100,000 Old Hat Stakes and set a stakes record in the process. Her final time of 1:08.85 for six furlongs was the fastest of 21 Old Hats run at that distance.

Breaking alertly under Rene Douglas, Madcap Escapade stalked Usual Manner through an opening quarter run in 21.37 seconds. Without any urging, Madcap Escapade shot past Usual Manner around the turn and catapulted to a five-length lead by the eighth pole. She drew off as Douglas tapped her once and simply waved the stick at her in the final sixteenth. Sent off as the 4-5 choice off her 10-length maiden win, Madcap Escapade returned $3.60 to win.

Sweet Vision rallied to get second by 1 1/4 lengths over Smokey Glacken.

Afterward, Douglas mentioned Madcap Escapade in the same breath as Ruffian, one of the most revered fillies in history.

"For all I know, she may be the next Ruffian," Douglas said. "She was doing everything on her own, and I shook her up a little bit at the end because she was doing everything so easy."

Trainer Frank Brothers said he felt Madcap Escapade was special enough to jump into stakes company off one start.

"I think you can do that when they're 2, and you can probably do that when they're early 3 if they have ability," said Brothers, who trains Madcap Escapade for owner Bruce Lunsford.

Brothers said he was not sure whether he would keep Madcap Escapade sprinting for her next start or try to stretch her out around two turns. The nine-furlong Bonnie Miss on March 6 and the seven-furlong Stonerside Forward Gal Stakes on March 13 are his south Florida options.