04/07/2005 11:00PM

Madcap Escapade, Souris, set to do battle


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Few fillies have been as flashy as Madcap Escapade has been in her brief career.

And few have improved as much as Souris has.

Next week at Keeneland, where stakes action will resume following the customary two-day break, Madcap Escapade and Souris will clash Wednesday in what figures to be a terrific renewal of the $200,000 Vinery Madison Stakes.

Madcap Escapade, a winner in 5 of 6 career starts, is sure to be favored in the Madison, a Grade 3 race at seven furlongs. But trainer Steve Asmussen said Souris will be there to give Madcap Escapade all she wants.

"Souris has become a warhorse," said Asmussen. "Nobody's going to hurt her feelings."

Souris, now 5, had developed a habit of finishing in the money but not winning until the last few months. She has reeled off a four-race win streak that she will take into the Madison. In that recent span, her Beyer Speed Figures also have swelled into the 105 range.

"She's just gotten faster," explained Asmussen. "She works faster and runs faster. She's really put it all together. I know Madcap Escapade deserves all the respect, but we're going to show up."

The Vinery Madison, which is expected to get another four or five starters, will help to start a busy race week that will peak Saturday with the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.

Popular bet, unpopular rule

With superfectas now available in 10-cent increments, Keeneland is sure to have more people betting into those pools. And because of this surge in popularity, fans should be aware that a certain rule governing the superfecta might one day lead to confused and unhappy customers.

According to Kentucky chief steward Mickey Sample, the superfecta can be offered on any race with a minimum of eight starters "when betting opens at the start of the day." In the case of later scratches, the superfecta can still be offered with as few as six starters, but once the race scratches down to five, the superfecta pool is canceled. (Stakes races are exempt; the minimum is five starters.)

That means that even if a six-horse race is run, but one of the horses subsequently is declared a non-starter - as has happened on occasion at Kentucky tracks - because of an incident in the starting gate or some other unusual circumstance, then the superfecta would have to be canceled before the results are declared official and payoffs distributed. In that case, all superfecta wagers - even apparent winners - would have to be refunded.

Sample, who was appointed chief steward by Ky. Gov. Ernie Fletcher last April 15, said the stewards must adhere to the rule, even if it causes problems among bettors.

Big Turfway meet for Rafael Mojica

Rafael Mojica Jr. closed Turfway Park with four winners Thursday night, putting an exclamation point on a terrific meet for the veteran jockey. Mojica was a virtual nonfactor when the winter-spring meet started Jan. 1 but finished just a handful of wins out of second place behind runaway leader Dean Sarvis.

The Turfway meet marked a notable turnaround for Mojica, a Puerto Rico native who was a finalist for the Eclipse Award as top apprentice in 1991. Mojica had struggled in recent years, riding primarily in New York, New Jersey, and Florida.

"The horsemen responded to me, and that was a big, big help," said Mojica of his Turfway meet.

Mojica, 35, said the meet will be memorable not because of his resurgence, but also because it was the first meet where he and his brother, Orlando Mojica, 23, rode regularly together. The younger Mojica, who has ridden regularly in Kentucky and Indiana since starting his career nearly five years ago, also had an outstanding meet by finishing second in the standings.

Sarvis led the meet with 91 wins, followed by Orlando Mojica (53), Rodney Prescott (52), and Rafael Mojica Jr. (49).