09/19/2002 12:00AM

His home away from home


Sea of Tranquility is a New Jersey-bred who has had 52 starts, only six of which have come at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. Of those six races, however, Sea of Tranquility has won four of them, including the 2000 Marfa Stakes and its prep race.

Saturday, fresh off a victory in the Sept. 4 prep, Sea of Tranquility will go for another Turfway victory when he starts from post 12 in a full field of older horses in the 17th running of the $75,000 Marfa.

Owned by Triple M Farms and trained by Richard Paulus, Sea of Tranquility was sharp when he won on opening night of the meet, closing from just off the pace to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths over U.S. Jets.

Perhaps the top threat to Sea of Tranquility in the 6 1/2-furlong Marfa is Binthebest, a Carl Nafzger-trained 5-year-old who this year has run against the likes of Snow Ridge, Orientate, and Bonapaw. Other top contenders include Dancing Missile, Aloha Bold, and Mountain General.

Probably the most intriguing Marfa starter is Slider, a 4-year-old gelding who posted an eye-popping 120 Beyer Speed Figure in April at Keeneland. Slider was sold before the opening-night prep for a reported low- to mid-six-figure sum to Louisville car dealer Billy Hays, whose horses are trained by Joe Woodard.

Slider finished fourth of five starters in the prep after being sent off the odds-on favorite.

Hays and Woodard beat Sea of Tranquility in the 2001 Marfa with Little Lee, the longest shot in the race.

The Marfa is the second-to-last stakes of the meet. Next Saturday's card will feature the $100,000 Turfway Fall Championship for older horses. Turfway runs through Oct. 3, then live action on the Kentucky circuit resumes the following day at Keeneland.