02/12/2004 1:00AM

'Madcap' may handle maiden to stakes leap


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Frank Brothers admits it's not the ideal situation to jump a horse into stakes company off a maiden win. He's hoping, however, Madcap Escapade will prove she's not just any horse when she takes on eight other 3-year-old fillies in Saturday's $100,000 Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Madcap Escapade ran away to an eye-catching 10-length victory in her career debut here on Jan. 4. Her 1:09.38 clocking for six furlongs was worth a lofty 93 Beyer Speed Figure. The performance was somewhat reminiscent of another Brothers trained 3-year-old, Pulpit, who was similarly impressive winning his career debut here seven years earlier.

"Sometimes you can get away going right into stakes company off a maiden win with a 2-year-old or early in a horse's 3-year-old campaign, as is the case with this filly," said Brothers. "She doesn't have the stride or build of a sprinter, but she's certainly got the speed of a sprinter and I think she'll eventually have a good chance of going a distance of ground."

Madcap Escapade is a daughter of Hennessy out of the multiple stakes-winning mare Sassy Pants. She is owned by Bruce Lunsford and will again be ridden by Rene Douglas.

Madcap Escapade will receive a four-pound concession from three of her eight rivals under the allowance conditions of the 6 1/2-furlong Old Hat.

Smokey Glacken is already a two-time stakes winner. She captured Monmouth's Forward Gal and Aqueduct's Grade 3 Valley Stream at 2. Her lone defeat came following a slow start and wide trip in the Grade 2 Astarita. She has had four works, including a bullet half-mile on Jan. 28, since shipping to south Florida this winter. Her top Beyer Figure, however, a 78, pales in comparison to that of Madcap Escapade's maiden performance.

Ready and Tough is a speedy filly who registered a pair of easy victories at Keeneland and Churchill last fall before closing out her juvenile campaign by finishing second in Turfway Park's Gowell Stakes.

Journey Fever won a restricted stakes for statebreds to close out her 2-year-old season and could benefit from what figures to be a very fast pace.

The remainder of the field includes Jules for A.J., who won her last two starts and now makes her her 3-year-old debut; Gulf of Gdansk, an easy first-level allowance winner on Jan. 25; and Usual Manner, a tiring fourth in the Sunshine Millions Oaks.