05/30/2005 12:00AM

Touched by Madness wires 'em

Ryan McAlinden/EQUI-PHOTO
Touched by Madness, Frankie Pennington riding, wins the Jersey Derby.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Touched by Madness pulled off a front-running upset in the $100,000 on Monday at Monmouth Park.

Trained by Ned Allard, Touched by Madness ($22.40) took charge early and never looked back with Frankie Pennington aboard.

Touched by Madness, making his second grass start, won with stunning ease. He was never pressed and won comfortably before 13,879 holiday fans on the Jersey Shore.

Touched by Madness grabbed an open-length lead midway on the first turn and proceeded to set a moderate pace. Nobody took up the challenge and the pacesetter took full advantage.

Touched by Madness opened up by five lengths turning for home and everyone else was battling for second place or worse.

"About the quarter pole I pushed on him a little bit and I knew he had more left," Pennington said.

Touched by Madness won by 2 1/2 lengths as he ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.54 over a course labeled good.

"I thought I was going to get pushed a little more," Pennington said. "He was really on his toes. Ned Allard did a real good job."

Spring House got second, with Hole in the Head third.

Malibu Moonshine, eighth in the Preakness a little over a week ago, didn't fare much better here in his grass debut. He finished seventh.

Touched by Madness showed an affinity for the grass last time out, running second in the Home of the Free Stakes at Belmont Park on May 20.

"The horse was set up for this race after his turf debut," said assistant trainer Jamie Preciado. "He was very sharp for this one."

The victory was the third in nine starts for Touched by Madness.

* Two races earlier, Brunilda won the $60,000 Fort Monmouth Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf, thanks to a ground-saving ride by Chuckie Lopez.

Brunilda ($18.80) slipped up the rail to defeat Bright Abundance by a half-length, with Krasnaya third.

Trainer Stanley Hough removed the blinkers on Brunilda, an Argentine-bred mare, and she responded with her fifth win in 17 career starts. Brunilda ran the mile in 1:36.87.