06/28/2005 11:00PM

Two fast fillies set for Rooney

Email

MIAMI - Two of the fastest fillies in the country, Madcap Escapade and Happy Ticket, are expected to converge on south Florida next weekend and meet for the first time in Calder's $500,000 Princess Rooney Handicap.

The Grade 2 Princess Rooney is shaping up as possibly the best of eight stakes races on a $1.9 million Summit of Speed program that will also feature the $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap, along with the appearance of the undefeated 3-year-old sensation Lost in the Fog in the $300,000 Carry Back Stakes.

Trainer Frank Brothers confirmed that everything is a go for Madcap Escapade to return to Florida for the six-furlong Princess Rooney. Madcap Escapade has gotten 4 of her 6 career wins at Gulfstream Park, although the Princess Rooney will mark her first start at Calder.

"So far so good," Brothers said Tuesday from his Churchill Downs base. "Right now the schedule calls for her to work here Saturday and fly down there next Wednesday. Jerry Bailey will ride."

Madcap Escapade will be looking to bounce back from a fifth-place finish as the 2-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff Handicap at Churchill Downs on May 7. The loss was only the second in eight starts for the 4-year-old daughter of Hennessy, whose only other defeat also came in a Grade 1 race, the 2004 Kentucky Oaks.

"She caught a little bump in the road in her last start, so now we'll just try to regroup and get her back on her winning ways," said Brothers. "I'm not much of an excuse guy. Let's just say it wasn't her day the last time at Churchill."

If Madcap Escapade had won the seven-furlong Humana Distaff she might not be here next week, Brothers said.

"If she had won on Derby Day, chances are I would have gone ahead and stretched her out after that," Brothers said. "And I'm still not ruling that out as a possibility later this year. But this looks like a pretty good spot to bring her back. She's had a couple of good works, and I'm looking at this as a telltale race for her."

Brothers knows that despite Madcap Escapade's blazing speed and imposing credentials the Princess Rooney will be a challenge, with Happy Ticket and Molto Vito among the likely opposition.

"Happy Ticket is unbeaten and I don't blame them for bringing her to a race like this," said Brothers. "And Molto Vito tries hard and runs well every time. It's going to be a good race."

Among the other likely starters for the Princess Rooney, according to racing secretary Bob Umphrey, are: Sensibly Chic, Savorthetime, and locals Wild Speed and Prospective Saint. He said Bending Strings and Puxa Saco might also run.

Smile cast coming from far and wide

The Smile figures to draw horses from all parts of the country. Trainer Bob Baffert is expected to bring Woke Up Dreamin here from California, Scott Lake could have a pair of starters in Don Six and Toscani, Gold Storm is headed this way from Texas, Gadace's Khamseh from Philadelphia Park, Abbondanza from Laurel, and possibly Bwana Charlie from Kentucky. The local contingent is likely to include Silver Wagon, Nightmare Affair, and Paradise Dancer.

Toscani was not among the original nominees and would have to be supplemented into the Grade 2 Smile.

Nightmare Affair tuned up for the Smile by working an easy half-mile in 49.20 seconds here on Wednesday. He was joined on the morning's tab by Hide and Chic, a candidate for the $300,000 Azalea Breeders' Cup Stakes who breezed four furlongs over the "good" track in 50.60 for trainer Marty Wolfson.

Wolfson also sent out his two top handicap fillies, Pampered Princess and Covincing, to work half-miles on Wednesday. Pampered Princess was timed in 49.40 and Covincing was clocked a tick slower at 49.60. Both have been entered for Sunday's $40,000 Ms. Brookski Stakes with Covincing the likely favorite if the races goes as scheduled on the turf and Pampered Princess the odds-on choice if the race is switched to the main track.

Castro to be honored

Saturday will be Eddie Castro Day at Calder. The Eclipse Award-winning jockey will be honored for his record-setting performance of riding nine winners on a single card here on June 4. Chris Antley is the only other jockey in North American racing history to ride nine winners in a day, but he accomplished the feat at two different tracks, on Oct. 31, 1987.

Castro, the meet's leading rider, will sign autographs in front of the jockeys room from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and later in the day will be presented with a plaque commemorating each of his nine wins on the June 4 card.