04/02/2005 12:00AM

Offlee Wild romps in slop


Offlee Wild is back, and in a big way. The 5-year-old horse, who beat Funny Cide in the Mass 'Cap last June prior to an eight-month layoff, splashed away to a lengthy score in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 at Aqueduct - the richest race of the season so far in New York.

Offlee Wild, who six weeks ago was beaten a neck by Coast Line in the John Campbell Handicap at Laurel, figured to have that rival to beat in the Excelsior, but Coast Line stopped badly approaching the stretch and faded to wind up last in the field of five.

Offlee Wild stalked in third position toward the inside as Rogue Agent set fractions of 24.41 seconds, 48.31, and 1:12.64. Offlee Wild challenged outside the leader once straightened into the lane by Rafael Bejarano, and widened his lead with every stride to score by 8 1/2 lengths.

"He settled nicely for me," said Bejarano, who won four races at the Big A on Friday. "When I saw Coast Line challenge for the lead at the three-eighths pole, I asked my horse, too, and he really kicked on. I never whipped him."

Rogue Agent, a mud lark who had won four of six previous starts on wet tracks, held second by a half-length over Cuba. It was another 13 lengths back to Country Be Gold in fourth, followed by Coast Line, who had won five straight races dating back to last fall.

Offlee Wild, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., ran the 1 1/8 miles on a windswept, sloppy main track in 1:50.41, and earned $120,000 for his fifth career victory.

"I was happy with how he took the mud coming back into his face today," said Dutrow. "The Breeders' Cup Classic is a long-term goal. I think a race like the Suburban [on July 2] could fit him nicely."

* Arthur Loudon, the stepfather of Daily Racing Form's New York correspondent David Grening, died Saturday. He was 68.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the American Cancer Society.