The Feb. 19 Shirley Jones Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park should be one for the record books when a pair of heavy hitting 4-year-old fillies-- Madcap Escapade and Society Selection-- clash for the first time in the seven-furlong race.
The site and distance of the race favors Madcap Escapade, who made a name for herself last year when she scored an easy 10-length win in her first career start over the South Florida oval. Making the rare jump to stakes company off a maiden score, she bettered her maiden win margin by taking the Old Hat Stakes by 11 lengths. She concluded her stay in Florida by recording a four-length win in the Stonerside Forward Gal (gr. II).
Trained by Frankie Brothers for Bruce Lunsford, Madcap Escapade knocked off 3-year-old filly champ Ashado in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) before finishing third in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
The daughter of Hennessy
was sent to the sidelines following the Kentucky Oaks with a hairline fracture of her hip.
Society Selection, trained by Allen Jerkens for Irving and Marge Cowan, rose to prominence with back-to-back wins at Saratoga in the Alabama and Test Stakes, both grade I. She couldn't handle the older Sightseek in the Beldame Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont in October and encountered a troubled trip later that month when finishing off the board in the Breeders' Cup Distaff--Presented by Nextel (gr. I).
While Madcap Escapade was perfect in three sprint starts at Gulfstream last year, the late-running Society Selection was 0-2 in a couple of two-turn, grade II races. She was beaten a neck when third in the Davona Dale and two lengths when second in the Bonnie Miss.
Jerry Bailey, who rode Society Selection in her Gulfstream races last year, returns aboard Madcap Escapade, while Cornelio Velasquez has the mount aboard Society Selection.
The pair of grade I winners haven't competed in a while and, if they show any signs of rust, any filly in this field could pull the upset.
Alix M showed her affinity for the new Gulfstream strip with a win in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint Jan. 29. Expect an Angel beat Alix M in the slop of the Chaposa Springs (gr. III).
The field for Saturday's $150,000 Shirley Jones Handicap (gr. III) includes:
Post--Horse, Jockey, Weight
1 -- Madcap Escapade (Jerry Bailey, 118)
2 -- Society Selection (Cornelio Velasquez, 120)
3 -- Expect an Angel (Jose Lopez, 114)
4---Slews Final Answer (Eibar Coa, 114)
5 -- D' Wildcat Speed (Eddie Castro, 114)
6 -- Givememore (Manoel Cruz, 114)
7 -- Alix M (Javier Castellano, 115)