07/29/2002 12:00AM

Hills heading on the road again

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Tim Hills has become quite the traveler this summer.

Hills, the runaway leader in the Monmouth trainer standings with 21 wins, has not only been making waves in New Jersey but around the country, and even in Canada.

Hills saddled Joe's Son Joey to a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine on June 23, and enjoyed his first trip there so much that he will be returning with Wish It Were in the Duchess Stakes on Aug. 10. Furthermore, Hills will be breaking new ground when he makes his first trip to Mountaineer Park in West Virginia the same day, to saddle Joe's Son Joey in the West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker's Cup.

Both of Hills's standouts were in action Saturday, logging solid workouts in preparation for their next starts. Wish It Were, who won the Dearly Precious Stakes on June 30, breezed four furlongs in 48.20 seconds. She had been slated to run in the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga last Saturday, but a lung infection in her final workout before the race forced Hills to skip it. Hills said she the infection has cleared up and she came out of her work in great shape.

"We scoped her after and she was clean," Hills said. "After watching the Test, I think it was better off that she stayed in her stall then going there."

As for making a return trip to Woodbine for the seven-furlong $150,000 Duchess Stakes, Hills said, "I'd like to keep her in stakes and there just aren't many sprints for 3-year-old fillies around here. It's a project to get up there, but it's worth the trip."

Last Saturday, Joe's Son Joey went a leisurely four furlongs in 51.80, breezing. Joe's Son Joey is his best at five and six furlongs on the turf, but he has won at one mile on the grass. Hills will stretch him out once again in the $85,000 stakes going one mile at Mountaineer Park.

Joe's Son Joey has logged many shipping miles himself, recording three seconds and a win in four stakes this year at four different tracks - Gulfstream, Philadelphia Park, Woodbine, and Monmouth.

Sea of Tranquility rests till fall

Sea of Tranquility, who pulled off the repeat victory in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile last Saturday, came out of the race in great condition, trainer Richard Paulus said Monday.

Sea of Tranquility's win Saturday was his third stakes win of the meet, and capped off a five-race summer campaign. Paulus said Sea of Tranquility earned a layoff and would be rested until the stable shifts to Turfway Park after Monmouth closes. Paulus said the $75,000 Marfa Stakes on Sept. 21 at Turfway would be his next start.

Sea of Tranquility crossed the wire second in the race, but was put up to first after First Lieutenant was disqualified and placed from first to third. With the win in his 51st start, New Jersey-bred Sea of Tranquility increased his earnings to more than $600,000.

At Sea of Tranquility's stall Monday morning, the 6-year-old was as feisty as he was entering the race, lunging at his trainer and trying to bite his arm. "He was tired that night," Paulus said, "but the next day you wouldn't have known he ran."

Paulus said Sea of Tranquility would race as a 7-year-old, and was already talking about his opportunity to defend his title in the Salvator for the third time next year.

"There's nothing wrong with him," Paulus said. "I don't run him that hard anyway. He'll run as a 7-year-old."

Valid Video sharpens for Sapling

Two of trainer Dennis Manning's top juveniles - Valid Video and Away to Go - logged major workouts in preparation for their next starts.

Valid Video has been lighting up the work tab since earning a 95 Beyer Speed Figure in his maiden win June 14, recording the quickest five furlongs of any 2-year-old this meet in 57.11. The goal for Valid Video has been the Aug. 10 Sapling, and with a quick four-furlong workout in 48 seconds, Manning said he is primed to go.

"I just hope I've kept him tight enough for the race," he said.

Away to Go, a $67,000 2-year-old in-training purchase at the July Timonium sales, has worked well since coming to Manning's barn three weeks ago. She should debut Aug. 7 in a five-furlong maiden special weight. On Saturday, she went four furlongs from the gate in 48.40.

"We'll find out if she's the real deal or just a morning glory," Manning said.