The return of grade I winner Madcap Escapade will likely come Feb 19 in the $100,000 Shirley Jones Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park, according to trainer Frank Brothers.
As a 3-year-old, Madcap Escapade won the Old Hat and Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II), at six and seven furlongs, respectively. The daughter of Hennessey then stretched out to 1 1/16-miles to win the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.
Her first career defeat was a third-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), after which a hairline fracture in her hip was discovered. She's been on the shelf since, but Brothers is content with her progress into her 2005 campaign.
"The injury wasn't really as bad as it sounds," said Brothers in a release from Gulfstream Park. "A fracture sounds terrible to a novice, but the main thing she needed was time. She got two months in the barn and two months turned out. Once we had her re-scanned she's progressed just as we hoped. She's feeling good and moving good."
Madcap Escapade has been posting nearly weekly workouts since November.
The Shirley Jones is at seven furlongs, and while her speedy running style left some critics questioning Madcap Escapade at longer distances, Brothers doesn't feel she's limited to sprints.
"She's obviously a very fast filly and I do think we need to find a way to control her speed," he said. "But she also won a grade 1 around two turns and that's got to say something. I feel she's got the talent to be a good middle-distance type."
Brothers remains cautious ahead of the planned return.
"There's never any gimmies in this game," said Brothers. "We'll see how these next two weeks of training turn out. Just as long as she doesn't stub her toe."