Look out. Tranquility Lake is back. And now she's got some different ammo. After a pair of disappointing losses on the lawn, trainer Julio Canani put the classy daughter of Rahy back on the dirt, and the 6-year-old mare jumped at the chance, defeating Gourmet Girl by three lengths in Del Mar's $294,000 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (gr. II) on Aug. 5. You'd have to dig deep to find the last time Tranquility Lake showed up somewhere besides the grass. Back then, Canani and jockey Eddie Delahoussaye hadn't yet found what makes the big girl tick. "We took her back all the time," Canani began, "and that was a big mistake. This mare, I mean, she's just a free-running horse." Still, it had been two and a half years since Tranquility Lake had been on anything but turf. But to potentially spread her options for the upcoming Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, Canani and owners Pam and Marty Wygod decided on the 8 1/2-furlong Hirsch as the litmus test. It worked--but not without some early anxiety. Naturally, the plan was to seize the lead from the start. It was Gourmet Girl, though, who got out the quickest, while Tranquility Lake was caught flat-footed in the gate. Knowing Tranquility Lake is best when she's let go early--"It's not that she has to have the lead," Canani opined. "She likes to be in front"--Delahoussaye hustled his mare after Gourmet Girl. They were in charge by the time they hit the backstretch. Gourmet Girl never let Tranquility Lake get too far away, shading her rival through a half in :46.25. After six furlongs in 1:10.03, though, Alex Solis began to get after the Cee's Tizzy mare. Tranquility Lake merely shook off the challenge, opening up for good turning for home. She crossed the finish in 1:41.78. Another 2 1/2 lengths back, Nany's Sweep edged Saudi Poetry for third. No definite plans have been made for Tranquility Lake's next appearance. At this point, every major distaff event--grass and now dirt--is her oyster. That only means trouble for everyone else. HEART WARMER FOR HARTY It certainly wasn't as explosive as Forest Camp's jaw-dropping move in the '99 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I). It may not even match that unforgettable first glimpse of Sardula, who came to the beach eight years ago and nearly lapped the field in her debut. Nevertheless, Tempera's nine-length romp in the $150,000 Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) on Aug. 4 left onlookers with just one thought afterwards. "That was sweet," smiled jockey David Flores, the gleam in his eye unmistakable. "She did it so easy." It's likely Flores could have been caught up in the moment, but his assessment was dead on--and Tempera's performance was as professional as they come. Though the slender daughter of A.P. Indy had shown pure speed at Hollywood Park a month ago, Flores applied different tactics in the 6 1/2-furlong Sorrento, keeping her away from the early heat. Tempera acted like she'd been doing it forever. "She was waiting for my command," admitted Flores, thoroughly impressed with Tempera's aptness. "Whatever I wanted to do, she was ready. When I just moved a little bit on her, she responded just like that." The move was swift, and the others had no chance. After sweeping by Georgia's Storm leaving the turn, Tempera simply cruised the rest of the way, practically jogging under the wire in 1:16.13. The Sorrento marked the first stakes win for Eoin Harty, currently in his second year of training the heavy-duty barn of Godolphin 2-year-olds. Tempera's been a standout from the moment they hit the shores, according to Harty, though he takes no credit for her versatility. "Trust me, the good ones, you can't teach them anything. They either have it or they don't," said Harty, who spent time with plenty of them during his seven years alongside Bob Baffert. "She's got a ton of talent." We'll find out just how much on Aug. 26, when Tempera gets seven furlongs to work with in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I). TIME TIZ NOW "Oh yeah, he's plenty eager. He's not just willing, he's eager. Big difference." Such was Chris McCarron's assessment following Tiznow's latest jaunt, a six-furlong blast in 1:11 and change the morning of Aug. 1. It was a far cry from that feeling four weeks earlier, when a discouraging gallop left McCarron wondering if the colt would ever make it back. "He's making good progress," the jockey explained. "The last two times I've breezed him, he felt 100%. Not fitness-wise, but soundness-wise." The muscle aches which kept Tiznow's career on hold are now gone. His rapid turnaround of late has prompted co-owner Michael Cooper to take a serious look at the Aug. 19 Pacific Classic (gr. I) for the colt's return to action. Originally, Tiznow's trainer, Jay Robbins, had designated the one-mile Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) on Sept. 2 as the ideal return spot, but now, the plans are up in the air. "It was a good work. He galloped out seven-eighths in 1:24 and three-fifths," Robbins said, though he did second McCarron's notion that Tiznow isn't quite ready to take on Skimming, Futural, and the rest. "He's not fit to go a mile and a quarter with those horses. The horse won't be ready to run until September."
AT THE WIRE The 1 3/8-mile Honey Fox Handicap drifted in on Aug. 3, and for the second straight year, Henry Pabst's Keemoon could not be stopped. Neil Drysdale is her trainer ... Cagney came through late to take the Escondido Handicap, also at 11 furlongs, earlier in the week. Richard Mandella trains the colt for Stud T.N.T. ... As expected, Budroyale emerged a tad worn-out from his fourth-place comeback in the San Diego Handicap (gr. II), his first outing in nearly 15 months. "But the first day back on the track, he ran off. He wasn't too tired," noted trainer Ted H. West. "He's just a little rusty." Bud may show up next in the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap ... Tranquility Lake wasn't the only weekend highlight for Canani and the Wygods. Remember the name Tribal Rule, 'cause this guy can run. A 5-year-old homebred son of Storm Cat making just his second start, Tribal Rule pounded maidens by eight lengths, blazing six furlongs in an effortless 1:08.82. He is a half-brother to the Wygods' grade-I star Key Phrase ... Caesar Dominguez scored a nifty double on Aug. 1, celebrating his 52nd birthday with back-to-back wins from $10.80 Dena's Diamond and $52 Gold Fevers Gift. Wally Dollase turned 64 the same day and sent out Sainte Maxime to break her maiden the following afternoon ... Jose Valdivia Jr., a nephew of former rider Fernando Toro, swept half the card on Aug. 3. His four-win afternoon helped put him into a second-place tie with Laffit Pincay Jr. and Tyler Baze in the jockey standings. Alex Solis is the clear leader so far.