08/06/2001 11:00PM

Hard-luck Paulus positioned to strike


OCEANPORT, N.J. - When trainer David Paulus won his first graded stakes in the Grade 3 Amsterdam on Aug. 4 last year with Personal First, he was on the top of the world.

One year later at Monmouth, Paulus was ecstatic just to win a maiden $16,000 claiming race, his first win of the meet here.

Paulus, previously based in Kentucky, brought a string here for the first time this year, but has encountered some tough luck. His barn consists mostly of 2-year-olds, and injuries and problems have prevented them from making it to the track - and prevented Paulus from winning races. When Under the Arch won that maiden claimer for him on Friday, it ended a 15-race losing streak. After the weekend, his record was 1-2-2 in 17 starts here.

"Most of my 2-year-olds have gotten sick and it's unfortunate, because they make up the majority of my barn," he said. "They came out of Keeneland ready to run, only needing one workout over the track, and then disaster hit."

Despite not achieving the success he had hoped for, Paulus has enjoyed the meet here so far. "The people have been great here and the weather has been terrific," he said, "and the racing office has been really nice to me."

Majani, possibly Paulus's top 2-year-old, has been recording solid workouts the entire meet, and Paulus has been patient with the $305,000 son of Holy Bull. It's likely that Majani will make his debut Sunday, in a six-furlong maiden race, Paulus said. A win could be the spark that Paulus needs to end the meet on a positive note.

"All of the babies are sound and training well now," he said. "They're getting cleared to return now, and hopefully we can salvage the rest of the meet."

Touch Tone's trainer likely to return

Don't look now, but Ronny Werner, trainer of Grade 1, $1.5 million Haskell Invitational runner-up Touch Tone, could be back to the Jersey Shore soon.

Werner, who arrived at Monmouth on Friday for the Haskell, took time to head over to the racing office and nominate three horses for the Grade 3 Sapling Aug. 18, the premier race for 2-year-olds here. Werner said he also nominated some of his 2-year-olds for the Saratoga Special, but it is likely that he will send a starter here from his Saratoga base.

Werner, a former Quarter Horse trainer, has taken Thoroughbred racing by storm this year, especially with young horses. At Keeneland, he won five of the seven races he entered horses in, and four of the winners were 2-year-olds. He already sent out a juvenile winner at Saratoga named Thunder Days. And Touch Tone, despite a career that consisted of only four starts before the Haskell, gave an impressive performance in his biggest race to date, battling to a mere half-length loss to Point Given.

From Barn 12 Sunday morning, where Touch Tone was stabled leading into the Haskell, Werner said he was enjoying his first trip to Monmouth.

"The weather is great here," he said, "and everyone has been real nice to us."

Werner, who also has a string at Arlington Park, said that while visiting a number of tracks this year he has been considering where he might want to stable in the future. Monmouth, with quality racing and good location for shipping to other tracks, such as those in New York or Delaware, wouldn't be out of the question, he said.

"It seems like Monmouth has a lot of good opportunities for 2-year-olds," he said. "All the tracks I've gone to this year will give me a good idea on where I want to stable next year."

Festive Madam steps up Thursday

Festive Madam, a 3-year-old trained by Terri Pompay, was impressive in her career debut on July 11, dueling on the rail throughout the race and scoring a 1 3/4-length victory. She steps up into the allowance ranks Thursday, in the featured one-other-than allowance for fillies and mares. Dale Beckner gets the return call, from post 4, and he will likely gun Festive Madam for the lead, because she is one of the few pace factors in the race.

A.P. Andie finished fourth as the 3-5 favorite in her first race off a six-month layoff, drifting five wide around the final turn and flattening out. A.P. Andie, trained by Faustino Ramos, should move forward off her first start back.

Icy Flirt has won two straight claiming races, and is the most seasoned horse in here, with seven career wins. Julian Pimentel should have Icy Flirt near the lead, breaking from the one hole.