05/06/2005 11:00PM

'Trusty Cat' turns tables on 'Madcap'

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - My Trusty Cat, no match for Madcap Escapade when the pair met three weeks earlier at Keeneland, turned the tables on her speedy rival and in the process earned her first Grade 1 victory, rallying to a three-quarter-length victory in Saturday's $250,000 at Churchill Downs.

Madcap Escapade, whose only previous loss in seven starts came over the Churchill track one year ago in the Kentucky Oaks, set her usual lightning-fast pace, but this time she had nothing left after six furlongs. She tired badly to finish fifth as the 2-5 favorite in a field of nine fillies and mares.

My Trusty Cat ran seven furlongs in 1:21.18 under jockey Javier Castellano and paid $23. She is trained by David Vance for owner Carl Pollard.

As expected, Madcap Escapade, ridden by Jerry Bailey, set the pace, through fractions of 21.98 seconds, 44.37, and 1:08.44 for the opening six furlongs. She continued on a clear lead until inside the eighth pole, at which point she began to shorten stride. My Trusty Cat was sent up four wide by Castellano leaving the turn, continued strongly into the stretch, overtook the tiring leader at midstretch, then outfinished Molto Vita.

Molto Vita prompted the early pace and continued gamely to finish second, a head in front of Puxa Saco.

Said Vance of My Trusty Cat: "She had not won a race over this track in nine previous starts, and that was on the back of my mind, although most of those races came at the end of the year. She came in today fresh, and I knew she was sitting on a big race. The only reason we kept her in training this year was to try to win a Grade 1 race."

Castellano, who won three races on Friday's Oaks card, was aboard My Trusty Cat for the first time in the Humana Distaff.

"I could see Jerry was fighting too much with his filly," said Castellano of Bailey on Madcap Escapade. "We were in perfect position about three of four lengths behind, and she really responded when I asked her to run. I don't think the sloppy track helped her at all when she finished second to Madcap Escapade at Keeneland, but the fast track was good for her today."

Bailey said Madcap Escapade just did not handle the Churchill Downs strip. "She doesn't run even on this track," said Bailey.