Bruce Lunsford's 3-year-old filly Madcap Escapade turned the $150,000 Forward Gal (gr. II) against four opponents Saturday into a procession, galloping to a 4 3/4-length front-running victory at Gulfstream Park.
She won the seven-furlong Forward Gal in 1:22 4/5 at odds of 1-5.
Trained by Frank Brothers, Madcap Escapade, a bay daughter of Hennessy, has emerged as a major contender for the April 30 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) off of three wins in as many starts this year. Her combined margin of victory has been 26 1/2 lengths.
"She's a very exciting filly ... the most talented filly I've ever trained," Brothers said. "At some point she's going to be tested. The water will get deeper down the line. This race at seven-eighths was the next step up, and she's a graded stakes winner now, which is huge. When she goes farther, she'll be in front, the question is if she keeps rolling. She has a chance to stretch out."
Ridden by Jerry Bailey, Madcap Escapade was off a step slowly but quickly established command along the inside, drawing away on the turn and maintaining her edge to win in hand. La Reina, the second choice in the field ridden by John Velazquez, was second, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Frenchglen, piloted by Pat Day.
"I was merely a good passenger, that's all I was," Bailey said. "She did hop out of the gate a little bit, but by the time she hits the ground the second time she's in full flight. I didn't even come close to dropping her head today."
The fractions for Madcap Escapade were :21 4/5, :44 3/5 and 1:09 1/5.
Journey Fever and Wacky Patty completed the order of finish. Irish Melody, Frenchglen's entry mate, was scratched.
Brothers said Lunsford would decide what's next for Madcap Escapade "or we might train her right up to the Kentucky Oaks."
He said the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) on April 3 or the Stonerside Beaumont (gr. II), both at Keeneland, are the main options.
Madcap Escapade, who was bred in Kentucky by Needham/Betz Thoroughbreds and James Blackburn, is from the dam Sassy Pants (by Saratoga Six
). She was purchased for $160,000 at the Keeneland September 2002 sale.
She began her career with a 10-length maiden win at Gulfstream Jan. 4, then followed that with an 11 3/4-length romp in the Feb. 14 Old Hat. Both races were at six furlongs. She earned $90,000 Saturday, increasing her bankroll to $169,200.
Madcap Escapade paid $2.40, $2.10, $2.10. La Reina returned $2.20 and $2.10. Frenchglen's show was $2.10.