09/26/2001 11:00PM

Defection benefits Sea of Tranquility

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When Caller One didn't enter Saturday's $75,000 Marfa Stakes at Turfway Park - a prospect that had been seriously considered until early this week - the chances for victory suddenly brightened for several other horses in the field.Foremost among them are Sea of Tranquility and Dash for Daylight.

Last year, Sea of Tranquility won the Marfa, and trainer Richard Paulus was unwilling to concede the title simply because it looked as if Caller One might run. Having dodged that bullet, Sea of Tranquility figures as a major threat as the 122-pound highweight in the 6 1/2-furlong Marfa.

Dash for Daylight has become remarkably consistent for trainer Elliott Walden, reeling off a string of in-the-money finishes in what has become his most productive season.

Another contender is Robin de Nest, who has been unable to handle two-time Marfa winner Bet on Sunshine in recent outings but appears to match up well here.

Completing the Marfa field are Little Lee, He Be Irish, and Two Punch Sonny.

Post time is 5:04 p.m.

The Marfa is the last stakes of the 22-day fall meet at Turfway in Florence, Ky. After three more programs at Turfway, action on the Kentucky circuit shifts Friday to Keeneland for its 17-day fall meet.

The semi-annual handicapping contest will be held Sunday, and the winner will earn $10,000 and a spot in the national finals in Las Vegas.