07/27/2002 12:00AM

Sea of Tranquility repeats

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - Sea of Tranquility won the Grade 3, $100,000 Salvator Mile for the second year in a row at Monmouth on Saturday, but only after First Lieutenant, the first to cross the wire, was taken down for his interference with Free of Love at the top of the stretch.

Sea of Tranquility, a 6-year-old New Jersey-bred trained by Richard Paulus, raced far behind a rapid pace set by Firm Believer and then 2-1 favorite Express Tour, in which the early fractions went in 23.21 and 45.79. Coming from next-to-last, Jose Ferrer guided Sea of Tranquility six-wide around the final turn, while First Lieutenant came off the rail under Carlos Cruz and bumped into Free of Love at the top of the stretch.

After straightening out, First Lieutenant came between horses along the third-path and crossed the wire first in 1:36.12 by 1 1/2 lengths before a crowd of 13,066. Sea of Tranquility ($10.60) closed on the outside of Free of Love to get up by a neck. With the disqualification, First Lieutenant was placed third, moving the second and third-place finishers up.

Sea of Tranquility, purchased for $6,500 as a 2-year-old by trainer Richard Paulus for Triple M Farm, increased his career earnings to over $600,000 in 51 career starts. While the Salvator win last year was biggest career win and first graded stakes win, this year's victory surely eclipsed that. The Salvator was Sea of Tranquility's third stakes win of the meet.

"I hate to win races like that," Paulus said. "But I've been waiting for the Salvator all meet. He was a little wide, but he had to be. If he had stayed down on the inside, he would have been in that mess."

* It took eight starts before she was put on the turf, but the Jimmy Ryerson-trained Tangier Sound has become a totally different filly on the grass. With Julian Pimentel aboard, Tangier Sound rated in second off a rapid pace and got up in the final strides to win the $50,000 Candy Eclair Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a head over pacesetter Melody of Colors. Tangier Sound ($25.40) covered the five-furlong distance in 56.43.