08/18/2005 11:00PM

Dutrow likes Offlee Wild's chances in Spa Cup

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Offlee Wild (left) rallies on the turn en route to victory in the Suburban at Belmont on July 2.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - His one bad performance behind him, Offlee Wild looks to take another step to a meaningful fall campaign on Sunday when he heads an underwhelming six-horse field entered in the $250,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap.

, in which he settled about 10 lengths behind the runaway speed of Record Buster before rallying for a 1 1/4-length victory. Sizing up the competition for this Grade 2 race, trainer Richard Dutrow doesn't believe Offlee Wild has to be as good to win.

"It looks like he's much better than them and our horse wants to go that far,'' Dutrow said, referring to the 1 1/4 miles of the Spa Cup.

Dutrow believes Offlee Wild is in better physical condition than when he went into the Suburban. In May, Offlee Wild finished a well-beaten sixth as the favorite in the Grade 1 Pimlico Special. He was later found to have a hind end problem that was repaired by Dr. Steve Allday.

"He did not come out of the Pimlico race good because of the [sloppy] track condition,'' Dutrow said. "He's been trained well for this race. He came out of this last race good. We haven't had to miss one second with him. He's got a couple of nice breezes over the track so we're feeling good about him.''

Edgar Prado will ride Offlee Wild, the 118-pound highweight, from post 5.

Trainer Mark Hennig felt the hot early pace of the Suburban helped lift Tap Day to a second-place finish in that race. But Hennig is also hoping that Tap Day is like many other progeny of the sire Pleasant Tap in that they improve with age.

"He's continued to come the right direction,'' Hennig said. "He's a great big horse; we're optimistic that he has stepped it up a notch and believe his improvement is more a reflection of keeping on the improve and not the fact the field kind of came back to him that day.''

has not won since taking this race last year. It was his second Saratoga Cup victory. He prepped for this year's race in an allowance event on Aug. 4, but was compromised by a slow start and finished third. Evening Attire is 5 for 9 over Saratoga's main track.

"There's always hope,'' trainer Pat Kelly said. "I'd be much more confident coming off a win.''

, trained by Nick Zito, comes off a victory in a stakes race at Delaware Park. Prior to that he finished fourth in the Grade 2 Brooklyn.

"He fits with those horses,'' Zito said. "Other than Offlee Wild, the rest of them he can beat,''

Suave, who won the Grade 3 Northern Dancer as a 3-year-old, looms the main speed under John Velazquez. Suave, who finished sixth in last year's Travers, comes off an allowance win at Arlington last month in his only start this year.