Jockey Mary Wiley was without a victory in five mounts yesterday at Laurel, but her day was far from insignificant. It was her last as an apprentice rider.

When Kent Desormeaux lost his "bug" two months ago, Wiley became Maryland's most successful apprentice. Today, she will be without the five-pound weight allowance she used to launch her career.

"I'm a little anxious about it," said Wiley, 24, who was brought up in Annapolis. "But I was out at Bowie {Race Course} this morning, made my rounds, and I was really amazed at how many people told me the weight was merely a convenience, and that they're going to continue to use me."

Wiley knows, however, that business is bound to decline. On today's entry sheet, she was named to ride in only three races; on Sunday, one.

"If my business does drop off, that's to be expected," she said. "But it's not like I'm going to be out of a job."

Wiley, who ranked fifth at Pimlico's summer-fall meeting, felt pressure to produce at Laurel before losing the bug. After the meet's first five days, she has four winners, one behind leader Desormeaux.

"It's really important to have the name right up there when the little bug disappears," said Wiley. "If people are up for a rider, they can look in the program; if you're doing well it can help a lot."

Trainer Dale Capuano said Wiley will remain his No. 1 jockey. "She follows instructions well and doesn't get into trouble," he said. "But best of all she can ride any type of horse. Some jockeys excel on speed horses, others need to come from off the pace. With Mary, it doesn't matter."

Wiley's adaptability has helped produce 155 victories this year and more than $1.4 million in purses. "Regardless of what happens from here," she said, "I've got to be real thankful for the year that I've had, 'cause I never would have imagined it in my wildest dreams.

"Actually, I expected to be a total flop. I thought I'd ride, like, 15 races and never be heard from again. But . . . I wasn't going to be like a lot of these girls you see come in, and they have the bug for five years and they ride one bum a week. Either I would do it as a real rider, and make a living at it, or I wasn't going to do it at all."

Meadowlands Cup:

Creme Fraiche caught favored Afleet just one stride before the wire and won the $500,000 feature at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., by a nose last night. Cryptoclearance was third, with Skip Trial fourth.