07/12/2006 12:00AM

A sizzling sister act

Adam Coglianese / NYRA
Dubai Escapade (above) will try to win the Princess Rooney, as did her sibling Madcap Escapade.

MIAMI - Madcap Escapade used her abundant speed to run the opposition off their feet during an all-too-brief career that ended prematurely following her convincing 5 1/4-length victory in the 2005 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder. But the family legacy has been ably carried on by her younger half-sister, Dubai Escapade, who will be heavily favored to defend her sibling's title in Saturday's 22nd renewal of the Grade 1 .

Madcap Escapade won 7 of 9 career starts, including the Grade 1 Ashland at 3 when she upset two-time Eclipse Award champion Ashado. A daughter of Sassy Pants by Hennessy, Madcap Escapade suffered her only two losses at Churchill Downs - both in Grade 1 races, the 2004 Kentucky Oaks and 2005 Humana Distaff Handicap.

Madcap Escapade rebounded last summer from a disappointing performance in the Humana Distaff by dominating a field that included the previously undefeated Happy Ticket in the Princess Rooney. But she was retired shortly thereafter when an MRI revealed she had suffered a torn ligament in her left front leg.

Madcap Escapade was trained by the soft-spoken Frank Brothers, who was never at a loss for words when talking about his star filly.

"She was absolutely the best filly I've ever trained and one of the most brilliant filly sprinters that I've ever seen," said Brothers. "She was probably the best sprinter of her generation for sure, and maybe the best of a lot of generations."

Madcap Escapade's early success paved the way for John Ferguson Bloodstock to spend $2 million for Dubai Escapade, sired by Awesome Again, at the 2004 Barretts March select sale of 2-year-olds in training. Running for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum's Darley Stable, Dubai Escapade finished a disappointing fifth in her career debut later that spring in England. She has been unbeatable since, winning her next five starts, including the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park by six lengths on June 11.

"I could see from the start she was very special," said Eoin Harty, who began training Dubai Escapade in November 2005. "You see a lot of horses show a lot of talent in the morning who maybe knock out a few condition wins and then struggle to get to the next level. She's just kind of whipped through everything, and looks capable of continuing her success even further."

The Princess Rooney will mark the second time Dubai Escapade attempts to defend one of her half-sister's titles. In April she followed Madcap Escapade's easy victory the previous spring with an even more impressive performance winning Keeneland's Grade 2 Madison Stakes by 4 3/4 lengths.

"I didn't pay a lot of attention to Madcap Escapade when she raced, but I remember being very impressed by her and how fast she was," said Harty. "I'd be more than happy if my filly turned out to be just as good."

Brothers got to watch Dubai Escapade race on a couple of occasions this winter at Gulfstream Park, and naturally was impressed with what he saw.

"She's a wonderful filly, and Sassy Pants is obviously a hell of a broodmare," said Brothers, referring to both fillies' dam. "Physically, however, [Dubai Escapade] and Madcap Escapade are two different types of filly. Madcap was much bigger and rangier. It looks like Dubai Escapade is going to be a Grade 1 winner, too, after this weekend. I'm probably a little prejudiced because I trained her, but I think Madcap had a little more brilliance to her.

"She won around two turns

beating Ashado in the Ashland, and I think if she could have stayed around a little while longer she would have shown she was more than a sprinter and not just limited to one turn.

"It's probably too early to tell if Dubai Escapade will be limited in that respect," Brothers added, "although she's by a sire that will keep running, so it wouldn't surprise me if she runs two turns before her career is over."