01/17/2006 12:00AM

There are a few reasons to like Rogue Agent


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Rogue Agent has not won a race since May 2004, a losing streak that encompasses 17 starts. But there are a number of handicapping angles that might suggest that streak could end in Thursday's one-mile allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.

Rogue Agent, the richest member of the field in Thursday's $37,000 main event, will make his first start since being transferred to trainer Peter Walder's barn late this fall. Walder, who has a 33-percent win rate with his new acquisitions, has taken advantage of the optional $75,000 claiming clause in the conditions of the race, which allows him to drop Rogue Agent into a third-level allowance off starts in stakes and tougher allowance races. Walder has also obtained the services of leading rider John Velazquez and has opted remove the blinkers Rogue Agent has worn in his last two starts and throughout much of his career.

"He seems to relax better without the blinkers, and I'd like to get him to be able to relax and finish better," Walder said. "He had them off once before and it seemed to work."

Rogue Agent, who has been on or with the pace in most of his 47 career starts, rallied to finish second behind Sinister G at Belmont Park on July 8, when he raced without blinkers. He has not started since tiring badly after contesting a very fast pace while equipped with blinkers Sept. 23.

"I've gotten two [six-furlong] works into him, so he should be fit enough for this race," said Walder.

Rogue Agent will be well served if he can relax off what figures to be an honest pace, with speed types Wanderin Boy, Hal's Image, Runnintothealter, Pinpoint, and Notgonagetemtoday among the opposition.

Wanderin Boy, coupled with his Nick Zito-trained stablemate Pinpoint, will likely be favored if he can draw in off the also-eligible list. A lightly raced son of Seeking the Gold, Wanderin Boy led throughout to win the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap last winter at the Fair Grounds but has not started since finishing seventh in the New Orleans Handicap on March 12.

Pinpoint has lost his last five starts after reeling off three consecutive victories, including Pimlico's Sir Barton Stakes, during the early stages of his 3-year-old campaign.

Stretch runner Zoffinger is eligible for a softer second-level allowance condition but would be a top contender if he can repeat his effort in Monmouth's Grade 3 Iselin Breeders' Cup Handicap, in which he was beaten by West Virginia while finishing in front of future Grade 1 winner Purge.