06/27/2002 11:00PM

Sea of Tranquility 'a tiger'


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Sea of Tranquility won the $50,000 Jersey Breeders' Handicap only two weeks ago, but he is geared up to run again in the Skip Away Stakes on Sunday. Just ask trainer Richard Paulus for proof.

Paulus showed his badge of courage Friday morning, a bite mark on his left arm courtesy of Sea of Tranquility. Paulus said that means the 6-year-old is raring to get out of his stall and race again, and he is returning to the peak form he displays days before a race. If that's the case on Sunday, the seven other competitors in the $50,000 Skip Away for older horses at 1 1/16 miles may be running for second-place money.

Second-place money has been all Sea of Tranquility's rivals have been able to hope for in his last two dominating performances. In the Frisk Me Now Stakes on May 26, he romped over the field by 7 3/4 lengths, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 110. One start later, in the Jersey Breeders' Handicap June 16, he turned in yet another impressive effort, opening up strongly down the lane to win by 4 1/2 lengths. Sea of Tranquility, a Jersey-bred, has earned over $500,000 in his career, with most of it coming at Monmouth.

"He came out of that last race like a tiger," Paulus said. "He has gotten better with age and is as good now as he's ever been."

Maybe the only thing that makes Sea of Tranquility vulnerable in the Skip Away is the distance. Paulus said Sea of Tranquility's best distance is at one mile, and his last two victories have been at that distance. At the Skip Away distance, Sea of Tranquility has one win in five starts. But with the way he has finished his last races, the distance may not be much a problem.

Sea of Tranquility's biggest career victory was in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile here last year, and Paulus is using this race as a prep for this year's Salvator, run July 27.

Cat's at Home was a multiple Grade 3 winner last year and poses the biggest competition to Sea of Tranquility. Cat's at Home, trained by Mark Hennig, made his 2002 debut in a money allowance June 7, running second by a neck to Top Bunk, also a Skip Away starter. Five-year-old Cat's at Home ran very well off the long layoff over a muddy track, not his best surface, and will surely move forward in his second start of the summer.

John Little won the Grade 3 Excelsior Handicap at Aqueduct in April and then ran fifth in the Grade 2 Mass Cap June 1. He may have bounced in the Jersey Breeders' Handicap and needs to rebound in the Skip Away. Beau's Surprise, the entry of Twilight Prince and First Amendment, and Beknown to Me round out the field.