06/19/2002 11:00PM

Spain, pregnant and wheeling


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Spain, the richest mare in North American racing history with more than $3.5 million in earnings, will make her next start in the Grade 2, $300,000 Molly Pitcher Handicap at Monmouth June 29, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Thursday.

Spain won the Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs by 3 1/4 lengths last Saturday and will return in the Molly Pitcher off two weeks' rest. Lukas said Spain, who is in foal to Storm Cat, came out of the Fleur de Lis in good shape, leading to his decision to run her back quickly.

"It was not a tough race on her," Lukas said from California. "She ran well and came out of the race very well."

Spain, a 5-year-old owned by the Thoroughbred Corp., is no stranger to Monmouth Park. She won the Grade 2 Monmouth Oaks in 2000 en route to a win in the Breeders' Cup Distaff that year.

Lukas, who has a string of horses at Monmouth, said Spain would ship to Monmouth from Belmont Park the morning of the race. Jorge Chavez, who rode her in the Fleur de Lis, retains the mount in the Molly Pitcher. Lukas won the 1986 edition of the Molly Pitcher with Lady's Secret.

As of Thursday, others expected for the Molly Pitcher, which will be televised on CBS, are Atelier, Extend, Southern Fiction, and Summer Colony.

Calends to go in Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup

Trainer Todd Beattie has very high expectations for Calends, who has just three career starts as a 3-year-old this year. Calends will get a chance to show what he's got when he runs in the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup on July 4. Beattie confirmed Thursday that Calends will run in the $100,000, six-furlong race for 3-year-olds.

Calends started his career this year with two victories before entering the Legal Light Stakes at Delaware Park on May 25 as the 3-5 favorite. He dueled throughout the race but tired down the stretch to finish third behind undefeated Running Tide. After the race, Calends was found to have heat stroke. He has been freshened at Beattie's Penn National base and Beattie is anxiously awaiting Calends's graded-stakes debut. Beattie, who runs horses all over the East Coast, has never won a stakes at Monmouth.

"The time frame of the race is very good," Beattie said. "The surface at Monmouth seems more suited to him than at Delaware. He was in pretty rough shape after coming down with heat stroke. We've given him plenty of time off and he's recovered well. He'll be at the top of his game in the Jersey Shore."

The Jersey Shore has brought together exceptional fields since moving from Atlantic City Racecourse to Monmouth in 1997. Smoke Glacken, champion sprinter of 1997, won the Jersey Shore that year. Last year, Grade 1 winners Songandaprayer and City Zip squared off, with City Zip prevailing. Another strong field is expected for this year's running.

Sea of Tranquility getting better with age

Sea of Tranquility was bucking and perky in his barn Thursday morning, showing no signs that he had run on Sunday. Sea of Tranquility, a 6-year-old trained by Richard Paulus, won the $50,000 Jersey Breeders' Handicap for his second consecutive stakes victory. His connections agree that he has gotten better with age.

"The older he gets, the better he gets," said assistant trainer Loren Kress. "He's a classy horse and always comes out of his races well."

Sea of Tranquility is set to defend his title in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile here July 27, but Paulus is searching for a prep three weeks from now. Paulus said after the Jersey Breeders' Handicap that he would be looking to run him in a stakes or allowance at one mile before the Salvator.

Sea of Tranquility's first stakes win of the meet came in the Frisk Me Now, a race in which he ran a 110 Beyer Speed Figure. That race proved to be a key race, as runner-up Tempest Fugit returned to win the $100,000 off-the-turf Oceanport Handicap last weekend and sixth-place finisher Judge's Case returned to win a tough allowance on the Belmont Stakes undercard.