07/02/2005 12:00AM

Offlee Wild rebounds in Suburban

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Offlee Wild, ridden by Egdar Prado, wins the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap in his first start since being beaten 23 lengths in the Pimlico Special.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Offlee Wild proved his flop in the slop in the Pimlico Special was a fluke, and now the top two handicap horses on the East Coast reside in one barn.

Offlee Wild, ridden by Edgar Prado, rallied to a 1 1/4-length victory in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 at Belmont Park, bouncing back from a sixth-place finish as the favorite in the Grade 1 Pimlico Special.

Tap Day, who filled in for his injured and retired stablemate Eddington, got up for second, a neck in front of Pollard's Vision. Sir Shackleton finished fourth. Evening Attire, Funny Cide, Runaway Russy and the pace-setting Record Buster completed the order of finish.

Offlee Wild was saddled by Juan Rodriguez, the assistant trainer for Richard Dutrow Jr., who is serving a 60-day suspension that expires on July 30. Dutrow also is expected to get Saint Liam back after he won the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap two weeks ago while being saddled by Bobby Frankel.

Offlee Wild, who won the Grade 2 Massachusetts Handicap last year, was beaten 23 lengths as the favorite in the Pimlico Special on May 20. His connections said he didn't like the slop and that he came out of the race with a hind-end problem. Dr. Steve Allday fixed that problem, and Offlee Wild was being pointed to next weekend's $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup.

When Pimlico Special winner Eddington was retired on Wednesday because of injury, Offlee Wild's camp decided to stay home.

Under Edgar Prado, Offlee Wild settled into fourth position as Record Buster ran off to a six-length lead while running three quarters in 1:09.81. Around the far turn, Offlee Wild and Pollard's Vision inhaled Record Buster, but Offlee Wild continued on through the stretch while Tap Day ran down Pollard's Vision for second.

"He showed us today that he's back," said Rudy Rodriguez, the exercise rider of Offlee Wild.

Offlee Wild, a 5-year-old son of Wild Again, covered 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.50 over a fast track and returned $9.20 as the third choice. In Dutrow's absence, Juan Rodriguez is 12 for 39 in New York.

Lansdon Robbins, who heads the AZ Azalea Stables, the group that owns Offlee Wild, said now that Offlee Wild has his Grade 1 win, he would like to try him on the turf in the Arlington Million on Aug. 13. Robbins points out that the dam of Offlee Wild, Alvear, is a half-sister to Dynaformer.

Meanwhile, the connections of Funny Cide have some soul-searching to do. For the third straight race, Funny Cide was a no-show, defeated by 19 lengths.

"He was never in the race," said Jerry Bailey, who rode Funny Cide for the first time. "At no point did he ever give me any indication he wanted to really run."