03/21/2003 12:00AM

Offlee Wild remains on target


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Offlee Wild, forced to skip the Florida Derby because of a bacterial infection, worked five furlongs in 1:01 at Gulfstream Park on Friday and remains on target for his next start, Keeneland's Blue Grass Stakes on April 12.

Offlee Wild worked shortly before 9 a.m. with jockey Mark Guidry in the irons and was never under pressure, although he did drift a bit coming off the turn and through the stretch, finishing up well off the inside rail.

"I was pleased with his work," said trainer T.V. Smith. "I asked the rider afterwards how he felt, and he said he thought he had a good, strong horse underneath him. We weren't looking to see how fast he could go. We know how fast he is. Right now I'm just trying to get his strength back into him."

Offlee Wild jumped into the Kentucky Derby picture with a game victory in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes in his 3-year-old and two-turn debut here in January. He finished fourth in

the Grade 1 Fountain of Youth Stakes, beaten 7 1/2 lengths by Trust N Luck, after being parked out wide for much of the race.

"Right now the plan is to keep him here for another week and work him once more over this track before we head to Kentucky," said Smith.

Funny Cide comes out for Wood work

Several other promising south Florida-based 3-year-olds worked Friday at the Palm Meadows Training Center, including Funny Cide, whose stock rose earlier this month following his third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby.

Funny Cide breezed a half-mile in 48 seconds as he begins to gear up for his next start, in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 12 at Aqueduct. It was the second-fastest work at the distance on Friday's tab, topped only by Runnin' on Nitro's 47.20-second clocking.

Runnin' on Nitro shipped in from the West Coast and dominated in a first-level allowance race, covering seven furlongs in 1:21.50 here on March 1. He is being pointed for the $250,000 Aventura Stakes and a likely confrontation with the much-talked-about Dynever here on April 5. Dynever, who won a mile and 70-yard maiden race here by 8 1/4 lengths March 8, breezed four furlongs in 51.20 seconds at Payson on Friday.

Nacheezmo, who in his only start defeated Dynever, also worked at Palm Meadows on Friday, breezing five furlongs in 1:03.

Two Wolfsons have same idea

A field of eight to 10 older horses is taking shape for the $300,000 Gulfstream Park

Handicap on March 29. Hero's Tribute and Puzzlement, second and third behind Harlan's Holiday in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, top the list of prospective starters that also includes Aeneas, Balto Star, Bonus Pack, Generous Rosi, The Judge Sez Who, and Windsor Castle.

Trainers Milt and Marty Wolfson are not related, but the two Calder-based horsemen are thinking alike when it comes to the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap. Milt Wolfson will send The Judge Sez Who over for the 1 1/4-mile race, while Marty Wolfson has Aeneas aiming for the race.

Both Wolfsons also agree that the Gulfstream Park Handicap becomes a more attractive spot with Harlan's Holiday half a world away next Saturday to compete in the Dubai World Cup.

"The fact Harlan's Holiday is not here was a major consideration in the decision to run The Judge Sez Who in the Gulfstream Park Handicap," said Milt Wolfson. "My horse has never been 1 1/4 miles, but the added distance should actually help his chances, because the pace won't be as fast, and he won't get as far back as he did in the Sunshine Classic. And if he shows he can get the distance, it opens a whole new dimension the rest of the year."

Aeneas is coming off a couple of eventful trips against allowance company earlier in the meeting, but trainer Marty Wolfson believes 1 1/4 miles should be right up his alley.

"The pedigree is there, so he should love the distance," he said. "And with Harlan's Holiday not in town, it makes the race pretty wide-open."

Marty Wolfson will bring in jockey Jesus Castanon to ride Aeneas in the Handicap.

"He's been riding great for me at Tampa, and I'm planning to bring him down to ride for me at Calder this summer," said Marty Wolfson.

Gander wins his season opener

Gander made a successful 2003 debut when he rallied from off a hotly contested pace to post a 1 1/2-length victory over Wiseman's Ferry and three others in Friday's $46,000 allowance feature.

Gander stayed well off a spirited early battle between Wiseman's Ferry and Roger E., then finished full of run down the middle of the track to win going away. It was the first start for Gander, a 7-year-old New York-bred, since a 10th-place finish in Churchill Downs's Grade 2 Clark Handicap on Nov. 29.

On Friday, Jerry Bailey rode Gander, who paid $3.80.

"Like I've said, it takes him a few races to really get back to his best form, and he looked a little sleepy going down the backstretch," said John Terranova, who trains Gander for the Gatsas Stable. "But everything worked out well and he should get a lot out of this race. At his age, we'll just let him dictate where we go next."

Wiseman's Ferry, a multiple Grade 3 winner last season, did well to finish second after being hard used dueling through some extremely fast fractions with Roger E. It was Wiseman's Ferry's first start since Oct. 5.