04/12/2005 11:00PM

Madcap Escapade sizzles in victory

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Bill Straus
Madcap Escapade, after leading through an opening half-mile in 43.75 seconds, bounds home a 4 3/4-length winner in the Vinery Madison Stakes.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Madcap Escapade gave a jaw-dropping performance Wednesday at Keeneland, getting the opening half-mile of the $200,000 in 43.75 seconds and going on to an easy victory in the seven-furlong stakes.

Over a sloppy track, Madcap Escapade ran her career record to 6 for 7, prevailing by 4 3/4 lengths over My Trusty Cat in a field of seven fillies and mares. Jerry Bailey was aboard.

"I've always said she's got a high cruising speed, but that's an understatement," said Bailey.

Madcap Escapade, a 4-year-old filly by Hennessy, finished seven furlongs in 1:23.33 and returned $2.80 as the huge favorite. Bruce Lunsford, the Louisville businessman who owns her, said Madcap Escapade will race next in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff on the May 7 Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.

"Maybe we can make up for the Oaks last year," said Lunsford, referring to a third-place finish in the 2004 Kentucky Oaks, the lone defeat for Madcap Escapade. "I always love to win at home. This is a special filly to me."

After breaking cleanly from the outside post, Madcap Escapade spurted clear of longshot Revolutionary Act at the half-mile pole to put the race away. Winning trainer Frank Brothers said the fast fractions did not have him unduly concerned. "She's just an exceptionally fast filly," he said.

My Trusty Cat was up in the final jumps to nab second by a head over Molto Vita in a four-way photo. Souris, the 7-1 third choice, finished another neck back in fourth and another head in front of Josh's Madelyn. Bending Strings, the 5-1 second choice, and Revolutionary Act completed the order.

Half-mile clockings under 44 seconds are commonplace at some tracks, especially in the western United Stakes, but not at Keeneland, where anything under that standard is considered unusually swift.

Earlier Wednesday, two of the five starters in the second race were claimed for $100,000, the highest amount for such races in Kentucky. Willy o'the Valley, the winner for trainer Jim Bond, was claimed by Rick Dutrow Jr., while third-place finisher Watchem Smokey was claimed by Bernie Flint.