Madcap Escapade and Society Selection, two of the nation's best 3-year-old fillies last year, head a list of 17 named to the $150,000 Shirley Jones Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at seven furlongs Feb. 19 at Gulfstream Park.Madcap Escapade rolled through three races at Gulfstream undefeated then took the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland. A hairline fracture of her hip, suffered when she finished third in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) in May, took her out for the rest of the year."There are never any gimmies in this game," said Madcap Escapade's trainer Frank Brothers. "She's been happy and moving well. If she doesn't stub her toe between now and then she'll go in (the Shirley Jones)."Society Selection won the Frizette (gr. I) as a 2-year-old then swept the Test Stakes and Alabama (both gr. I) at Saratoga last summer. She was ninth behind Eclipse Award winner Ashado in the Nextel Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) in her last race.Madcap Escapade must overcome criticisms that she is a one-dimensional speedster best suited to sprints. Society Selection would appear in the race with an eye toward the longer Sabin Handicap Feb. 26 or the Rampart Handicap March 26. Both races are at 1 1/8 miles."She liked the progression of sprint-to-distance last year at Saratoga," said Society Selection's trainer Allen Jerkens. "The owner (Irving Cowan) isn't that crazy about running her against Madcap Escapade, but I feel like if she gets beat, she gets beat. I've got to get her back somehow. I guess it has to be this race."Trainer Todd Pletcher has five fillies among the 15 other nominees to the Shirley Jones. Hall of Famer Bill Mott also submitted two nominees.
Weights assignments for the race will be announced Saturday Feb. 12.