Updated on 09/15/2011 12:56PM

Big three in Palomar have their agendas

Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Tout Charmant is one of the top threats in Saturday's Grade 2 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. - The top three contenders in Saturday's $150,000 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar have something to prove in advance of the autumn's top races for female turf stars.

Paga, a star in Argentina, can confirm she fits in graded stakes in this country. Tout Charmant is attempting to regain her outstanding form of 1999 and 2000, while Tranquility Lake is trying to win consecutive races for the first time since last fall.

The trio gives the Grade 2 Palomar, which is run over 1 1/16 miles on turf, the feel of a Grade 1.

Tranquility Lake, who won the Grade 2 Clement Hirsch Handicap on dirt on Aug. 5, makes her second start on turf at the meeting, having finished second in the Grade 1 Ramona Handicap as a heavy favorite on July 21.

Trained by Julio Canani, Tranquility Lake shares top weight of

123 pounds with Tout Charmant but is likely to go favored on the basis of her recent form. Tranquility Lake and Tout Charmant were 1-2 in the 2000 Palomar and both won Grade 1 stakes late last year. Tranquility Lake won the Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita, while Tout Charmant outfinished Tranquility Lake by a head in a memorable running of the Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park last November.

Tout Charmant, who was second in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, has not started since that race because of a bout with colic, but trainer Ron McAnally says she has trained well.

"She hasn't run in quite awhile, but I think she's pretty fit," McAnally said. "We gave her three solid seven-eighths works. I can't expect her to do better than she is physically. We've got a couple of races before the Breeders' Cup if she's as good as she was."

From a strategic point of view, Tout Charmant may get an ideal trip against a field of seven that also includes High Walden, a recent allowance winner on this course, and Histoire Sainte, a stake winner at Fair Grounds last January..

As a stalker, Tout Charmant may be in the perfect spot behind Paga and Tranquility Lake, two front-runners. Tranquility Lake led throughout the 2000 Palomar, a 2 1/2-length victory over Tout Charmant.

Paga ran like a future star when she won her United States debut in the Osunitas Handicap on Aug. 8. She led throughout, turning back a sustained challenge through the final half-mile to win by a neck over La Ronge, who will be a longshot in the Palomar.

The victory was a dress rehearsal for Saturday's showdown.

"This is a big difference," said trainer Richard Mandella. "I suspect she'll run better than the first time."