01/30/2003 1:00AM

Easy going for Offlee Wild


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Offlee Wild, upset winner of the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes, worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 with jockey Mark Guidry aboard at Gulfstream Park on Thursday as he begin preparations for his next start, the Grade 1 Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 15.

Offlee Wild rallied to a game head decision over Powerful Touch in his 3-year-old and two-turn debut, the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull.

"I just wanted to get a maintenance work into him this morning, so I told Mark to just sit on him and let him do it on his own," trainer T.V. Smith said a short while after Offlee Wild had cooled out from his work. "It was just a stroll in the park."

Smith saddled Grits 'N Hard Toast to an upset victory in the 1999 Holy Bull but calls Offlee Wild the "best horse I've ever trained."

"I never had any doubts he'd go a route of ground, and I think he'll go a lot farther," said Smith. "He knew he'd been in a race after the Holy Bull, but he's bounced back pretty good now. I'll give him one, maybe two more works before the Fountain of Youth. Obviously the races are going to get tougher as you go on, and I'm sure there are some good ones waiting to pounce on us. But we're here, he really seems to like the track, and we've already got one good win under our belt."

Among the other prominent 3-year-olds currently pointing for the Fountain of Youth are Powerful Touch and Bham, second and third behind Offlee Wild in the Holy Bull; Trust N Luck; Whywhywhy; Funny Cide, who finished a troubled fifth in the Holy Bull; and perhaps either Ozzie Cat or Scrimshaw from trainer D. Wayne Lukas' barn.

Ivanavinalot fine after Millions loss

Trainer Kathleen O'Connell said Ivanavinalot has returned from her second-place finish to Atlantic Ocean in Saturday's Sunshine Millions Oaks at Santa Anita in good shape and could make her next start in the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes here on Feb. 23.

"She handled the trip out to California a lot better than I did," O'Connell said on Thursday. "I agonized over shipping her and was completely frazzled when they loaded her onto the plane for the flight. But she handled it like a trouper."

Ivanavinalot was making her first start since Oct. 12 in the seven-furlong Oaks and was game in defeat after pressing a very fast pace. The setback was just her second in seven career starts.

"She hated the track out there, that's why she switched leads down the stretch," said O'Connell. "I also thought she might be a work short going into the race. Factor in the long trip, and all in all it was a great effort."

O'Connell said Ivanavinalot returned to the track for the first time on Thursday and that the Davona Dale was probably the most likely option for her next start.

"We've got her nominated to everything all over, because you never know what could happen," said O'Connell.

"She might get sick or miss some training here or there for whatever reason, so this way we've got all our bases covered. I really would prefer not to have to ship her again for a while, so the Davona Dale and possibly the Bonnie Miss later in the meet are perhaps the most likely options. Ultimately, our main goal is the Kentucky Oaks."

Ivanavinalot shipped into trainer Howard Zucker's barn at Santa Anita and spent her short visit in California bedded down in Madame Pietra's stall.

Madame Pietra was at Gulfstream Park at the time, where she won the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint.

Saint Marden out until spring

Saint Marden, who stopped badly and finished last as the second choice in Saturday's $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic, will be sidelined until the spring, his trainer, Michael Matz, reported on Wednesday.

"He bled a bit in that race, so I'm going to give him a pretty good rest and then see where we are," Matz said. "We had a couple of little setbacks leading up to the Classic. He was coughing when he came down here, and we were on rush mode from there just to make the race."

Saint Marden had won four of his five starts coming into the Classic, including Aqueduct's Grade 3 Discovery Handicap. His only setback during that span came in last summer's Grade 1 Travers.

"We'll give him some time, see where we are, and then pick an easier spot for his return," said Matz. "Hopefully I can have him back running again by the spring."

* Trainer Carl Nafzger is starting to pick up the pace in the morning with several of his returning stakes horses. On Thursday he sent out Westerly Breeze, his Grade 2 stakes-winning 3-year-old filly, to work a half-mile in 49 seconds, and his best older filly, Softy, who breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40. Softly will make her next start in the Sabin Handicap on Feb. 8, but Nafzger remains undecided as to when Westerly Breeze might make her 3-year-old debut.