07/07/2002 11:00PM

First Lieutenant fresh and fit for Salvator


OCEANPORT, N.J. - First Lieutenant, second in the Grade 2 Iselin Handicap last year, is gearing up for another summer at the Shore.

First Lieutenant, a 5-year-old trained by Phil Oliver, has always excelled at Monmouth, with three wins in five starts here. He has been working strongly for his 2002 debut, which Oliver said will come in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile on July 27.

"He's training the best he's ever trained," Oliver said. "The Salvator is a tough spot to come back first time out, but he always runs well fresh. He's won three times off an extended layoff."

Owned by G. Watts Humphrey, First Lieutenant has earned nearly $230,000 in 11 starts. Oliver said the horse has been plagued by small problems his whole career that have prevented him from racing more often but he said First Lieutenant seems over those ailments now.

After leaving Monmouth last meet with two allowance victories and a second in the Iselin, he ran fourth in the Grade 3 Fayette Stakes and then ran poorly in a small stakes at Calder. In each of the two summers he has raced here, First Lieutenant has started the meet with a victory.

First Lieutenant breezed five furlongs in 1:04 on Saturday to complete a string of five workouts to prepare for his Monmouth return.

Run Production may be a good one

There have been a number of quick 2-year-old colts who have debuted at this meet, and the John Salzman-trained Run Production was no exception on Sunday. A son of Saint Ballado owned by Four Horsemen's Ranch, Run Production made his first career start an impressive one by wiring a field of six in the third race.

Breaking from the inside post under Abdiel Toribio, Run Production broke sharply, clearing the field by one length only a few jumps out of the gate. Setting fractions of 22.50 seconds and 45.49, Run Production, the second choice at 8-5, had more than enough left in the tank down the stretch. When Paris Adventure came to him at the quarter pole, Toribio let out a notch on the winner and he sprinted home strongly to win by 6 1/2 lengths over even-money favorite Max Forever.

Run Production, a homebred, completed five furlongs on a fast track in a rapid 57.47. His quickest fraction was the 11.98 he set in the final furlong. The final time was the second best by a 2-year-old this meet. Salzman said he shipped Run Production in from his Laurel base, and had been pointing for this maiden race, because the five-furlong distance suited the ultra-quick colt.

"He's a runner," Salzman said after the race.

Run Production is a full brother to stakes sprinter Bay Head King, and the second foal out of Meadow Silk. His work tab leading up to the race contained four consecutive bullet workouts.

Sea of Tranquility should like mile better

Sea of Tranquility, second in the Skip Away Stakes on June 30, is gearing up to defend his title in the Salvator Mile, trainer Richard Paulus said Sunday.

Sea of Tranquility's runner-up finish to wire-to-wire winner Cat's at Home in the Skip Away was his only loss in his last three races. Paulus said before the race that 1 1/16 miles wasn't his horse's favored distance, and in the Salvator he will return to his optimum distance.

Paulus said Sea of Tranquility came out of his last race nicely and is starting to sharpen up for the Salvator. "I've been going nice and slow with him now," Paulus said. "The Skip Away was a hard race on him. But he's starting to come up again and he'll be sharp for the Salvator."

New Jersey-bred Sea of Tranquility entered the Skip Away off a huge win in the Frisk Me Now Stakes and a victory in the Jersey Breeders' Handicap. In the Skip Away, Paulus said Sea of Tranquility broke badly and then he had to chase uncontested pacesetter Cat's at Home. Cat's at Home, a multiple Grade 3 stakes winner last year, could also return in the Salvator.

Willie's Luv heads allowance feature

Willie's Luv has rolled over statebred competition in her last two starts and she will be heavily favored to do the same in Wednesday's featured eighth race, a two-other-than allowance for fillies and mares at one mile.

Willie's Luv, a 3-year-old trained by Jaime Woodington, was impressive when she tackled older fillies in the $50,000 Santo Lalomia Stakes over a muddy track June 15, winning by more than six lengths. She has won her last two starts by a combined 17 1/4 lengths. The Santo Lalomia was her first start around two turns and she showed she can win at a distance. Since the victory, she fired a bullet five-furlong workout in 1:00.20 on July 1.

Willie's Luv has never been out of the money in six career starts.