Bruce Lunsford's Madcap Escapade is heavily favored to continue her brilliant comeback from injury when she faces eight rivals in Saturday's $250,000-added Humana Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
The 4-year-old daughter of Hennessy has been installed as the 1-2 morning line favorite for the seven-furlong race. The Humana Distaff is part of a rich stakes schedule on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs that includes six stakes races with record total purses of $3.05 million. Madcap Escapade, who starts from the extreme outside post with Jerry Bailey aboard, suffered the only loss of her career in last year's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. She carries top weight of 123 pounds.
The Frank Brothers-trained Madcap Escapade comes into the Humana Distaff off a dazzling victory in Keeneland's Madison Stakes (gr. III). She established fast fractions that day on an off-track, but drew off effortlessly under jockey Jerry Bailey to win by 4¾ lengths.
"She's doing fine," said Brothers. "Speed in the mud, sometimes it's a lot easier. It could be different over here (at Churchill Downs). She'll probably be a little more vulnerable over here because of the long lane, but she's doing well."
Madcap Escapade's resume also includes a victory in the Ashland (gr. I) last year that preceded her lone loss – a third place finish to eventual 3-year-old filly champion Ashado – in the 2004 Kentucky Oaks. She went to the sidelines shortly after the Oaks with a hip fracture, but made a flashy return to competition in a two-length victory in the Shirley Jones Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park. Madcap Escapade's accomplishments seem to tower over the rest of the field. She soundly defeated five of her eight Humana Distaff rivals in the Madison. She has won four graded stakes races, with three of those coming at the Humana Distaff distance of seven furlongs.
John D. Gunther's Molto Vita figures to pose the biggest early challenge to Madcap Escapade. The Dallas Stewart-trained daughter of Carson City won the Thoroughbred Club of America (gr. III) last fall at Keeneland and will be ridden by the sizzling Rafael Bejarano. She was third to Madcap Escapade in the Madison. Others in the field include California invader Puxa Saco, a daughter of Dehere trained by Jenine Sahadi; Raven Run (gr. II) winner Josh's Madelyn; Pan Zareta winner Souris; and Honorable Miss (gr. II) winner and Madison runner-up My Trusty Cat. $250,000-added Humana Distaff Handicap (gr. I, Race 8, 3:57 p.m.), fillies & mares 4 & up, 7 furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Puxa Saco (KY), Mike E. Smith, 114, 15/1
2. Bending Strings (KY), Gary L. Stevens, 116, 10/1
3. Molto Vita (KY), Rafael Bejarano, 115, 12/1
4. Josh's Madelyn (KY), Justin Shepherd, 114, 20/1
5. Santa Candida (ARG), Omar A. Berrio, 116, 20/1
6. Souris (KY), John R. Velazquez, 115, 8/1
7. Heavenly Humor (KY), Robby Albarado, 115, 15/1
8. My Trusty Cat (KY), Javier Castellano, 115, 8/1
9. Madcap Escapade (KY), Jerry D. Bailey, 123, 1/2