08/10/2003 12:00AM

'Gators', 'Tranquility' win at Monmouth


Gators N Bears posted a third straight win at his favorite track in capturing the Rumson Stakes.

The Rumson for 3-year-olds going six furlongs topped a trio of $50,000 stakes Sunday afternoon at Monmouth Park.

A pair of one-mile New Jersey-bred races, the Jersey Breeders' Handicap and The Highlands for 3-year-old fillies completed the stakes lineup.

In keeping with the local-breeding theme, the first two finishers in the Rumson were the two New Jersey-breds in the four-horse field.

Gators N Bears, riden by Chuckie Lopez, blew past the pacesetting Something Smith in deep stretch to pull away to a 2 1-4 length win in 1:08.57.

Gators N Bears ($4.60) loves the return trips to his native state.

"He likes this racetrack," said Maryland-based trainer Leo S. Nechamkin II. "When a horse shows you he likes a place, you should stay there."

Gators N Bears won the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Stakes in his previous outing, giving the son of Stormy Atlantic consecutive victories over open company.

Nechamkin, not surprisingly has picked out another Monmouth race for Gators N Bears' next start: the $50,000 Select Stakes for 3-year-olds at five furlongs on the turf on Aug. 30.

Veteran Sea of Tranquility ($5.60) rebounded to win the Jersey Breeders' Handicap at one mile.

The 7-year-old disappointed in his bid to win a third straight Grade 3 Salvator Mile, running last in the field of six.

He bounced back smartly on the return to state-bred ranks with a strong rally to win by 2 1-4 lengths over Beknown to Me.

"He's back to his old self," said trainer Richard Paulus. "We still can't figure out what happened in the last one."

Uphill Skier ($3.80) beat Out of the Will in The Highlands, originally slated for the turf course but moved to the main track muddied by a late afternoon shower.