06/18/2004 11:00PM

Offlee Wild stuns Funny Cide

Chip Bott/CB Photography
From left to right, Offlee Wild edges Funny Cide and The Lady's Groom in the Mass Cap.

EAST BOSTON, Mass. - Jockey Edgar Prado is making a habit of breaking hearts of Triple Crown hopefuls. His latest example came aboard Offlee Wild, who scored a gutsy head victory over Funny Cide in Saturday's $500,000, Grade 2 at Suffolk Downs in front of 17,280 fans.

Offlee Wild was listed at 15-1 in the morning line but was hammered down to 3-1 - the second choice to fan favorite Funny Cide. A 4-year-old, Offlee Wild attacked Funny Cide turning for home after following the tepid pace set by eventual third-place finisher The Lady's Groom. All three traveled the stretch together, with Offlee Wild forging ahead on the outside in the last few yards, while Funny Cide held second, a head better than The Lady's Groom. The final time was 1:49 for 1 1/8 miles.

"This race set up perfectly," said Prado who denied Smarty Jones his Triple Corwn bid in the Belmont. "It was a little slower than I expected, but I didn't stay too far off the leaders. I had a chance to get off the rail and I took it. He just kept on digging."

Owned by Az Azelea Stables, Offlee Wild beat Funny Cide last year in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park and eventually made it to the Kentucky Derby only to finish a dismal twelfth for trainer T.V. Smith. After viral and foot ailments hindered Offlee Wild from last summer through this past winter, the son of Wild Again was transferred to trainer Richard Dutrow, who is now 2 for 2 since taking over.

"He was a dead horse when we picked him up in Florida," said Dutrow. "I'd go into his stall and he just didn't care. But after six or eight weeks, he'd want to know what I was doing in his stall. He started to show more signs of life. Whenever you pick up horses like that, that's what you want to see."

"There was a lot of speed on paper in this race, but nobody seemed to show it," said Jose Santos, who rode Funny Cide. "He did his best today and we were coming back at the end. We lost by a nose and we have no excuse for that."

Gygistar stayed on to be fourth in his first start around two turns. Locally owned Evening Attire finished fifth.

In the supporting stakes, the $200,000 James B. Moseley Memorial Handicap, Gators N Bears turned in a no-doubt-about-it performance and stamped himself as one of the best sprinters around with his 4 1/2-length victory over Valid Video.

Sent off at 2-1, Gators N Bears took up a stalking position behind Captain Red on the backstretch and cruised to his second straight stakes score once turned loose in the stretch by jockey Ramon Dominguez.

Valid Video rallied for second over the favorite, My Cousin Matt. Defending champion Peeping Tom finished fourth.

Owned and trained by Leo Nechamkin, Gators N Bears paid $6.40 in 1:09 1/5.

* Gran Cesare upset the $40,000 Old Ironsides Stakes by beating local turf star Milky Way Guy under jockey Ramon Dominguez. Former state-bred champion Jini's Jet finished third.