08/31/2001 11:00PM

Tranquility Lake takes Palomar


DEL MAR, Calif. - Tranquility Lake successfully defended her title in Saturday's $150,000 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar, but the race failed to live up to expectations when top contender Paga was scratched on Saturday morning.

The absence of Paga, a multiple stakes winner, left Tranquility Lake with no opposition for the early lead. Ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye, she set her own pace to the end of the backstretch (through fractions of 24.28 and 48.89 seconds), held off the challenge of Histoire Sainte on the final turn and won by a comfortable length.

The 6-year-old Tranquility Lake ($3.60) ran 1 1-16 miles on turf in 1:41.94.

"I don't think the scratch made that much of a difference, but the fewer horses the better," owner Marty Wygod said.

La Ronge, a 7-1 chance trained by Neil Drysdale, rallied wide on the final turn to finish second, a half-length in front of 22-1 Al Desima.

Histoire Sainte finished fourth, followed by Tout Charmant and High Walden.

Tout Charmant was making her first start of 2001, following a bout with colic earlier this year. She was third on the backstretch but faded in the final quarter-mile.

Paga was scratched because she was found to be in season, trainer Richard Mandella said.

Tranquility Lake is bound for the Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 27, although Wygod and trainer Julio Canani have not decided between the Distaff on the main track or the Filly and Mare Turf.

Her win in the Grade 2 Palomar came four weeks after she scored a convincing victory in the Grade 2 Clement Hirsch Handicap on the main track.

"If we didn't run her, we would have had to work her five or six times," Marty Wygod said, explaining the decision to run on Saturday. "We thought this was a good spot."

*Freespool returned from a three-month layoff to win the restricted $71,150 Pirate's Bounty Handicap, his third stakes win of the year.

Ridden by Isaias Enriquez, Freespool led throughout the six furlongs, setting fractions of 21.42 and 43.61 seconds. He shook off Gibson County on the backstretch to win by three lengths over Tavasco in 1:08.87.

Capo di Capo finished third in the field of eight. Forest Camp, the defending champion and 8-5 favorite, finished fifth in his first start since last October.

A 5-year-old, Freespool is owned by Desperado Stable and trained by Ted H. West. He won the Phoenix Gold Cup and Oakland handicaps earlier this year.