Offlee Wild's 27-1 victory in Saturday's $100,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park kicked off what could be a wide open 2003 Kentucky Derby trail.
The Azalea Stables-owned son of Wild Again, ridden by Mark Guidry, nipped another longshot, Powerful Touch, owned by Frank Stronach and ridden by Jorge Chavez, by a nose in a head-bobbing finish.
Favored Added Edge, 8-5 in the 13-horse field of sophomores, finished off the board in the 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds, the first of the Florida Derby (gr. I) three-race series at Gulfstream. Pacesetting Bahm, second choice at 5-2, settled for third after setting solid fractions with John Velazquez in the irons.
Trained by Thomas Smith, Offlee Wild broke on the lead but was taken back to third, where he raced comfortably behind Bahm and Powerful Touch. Bahm established the lead through fractions of :23.52 for the quarter-mile, :47.31 for the half and 1:11.43, but could not shake Powerful Touch, who challenged for the lead after a mile in 1:36.46.
Guidry urged Offlee Wild to the front in the stretch and the two battled to the wire with Powerful Touch the unlucky loser. The winning time was 1:43.
Offlee Wild, a $325,000 Keeneland September 2001 yearling sale purchase, came into the race with a maiden score at Churchill Downs Oct. 27 to show for three career starts as a 2-year-old. The winner had not been postward since a second-place finish to Rojo Toro in an entry-level allowance Nov. 17 at Churchill, but had been working well at Gulfstream for his return, posting two bullet five-furlong drills since Dec 22.
The $60,000 winning purse gives Offlee Wild a career bankroll of $95,785. Dorothy A. Matz bred Offlee Wild in Kentucky.
Offlee Wild paid $56.80, $21.60 and $8.80. Powerful Touch returned $11.60 and $6.60. Bham's show price was $3.80. The $2 exacta returned $496.