Three Plus U Stable's Northern Quest, taking advantage of a soft turf course he seems to prefer, split horses at the top of the stretch en route to a 1 1/2-length victory in the $242,500 Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Sunday at Golden Gate Fields. Under Victor Espinoza, the 6-year-old French-bred completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:58.58.
Northern Quest's two most recent victories prior to Sunday's win came last summer in the Arlington (gr. IIIT) and Del Mar (gr. IIT) Handicaps, the former on a soft course and the latter on a course labeled good. Since then, the Bobby Frankel trainee has run on a series of firm turf courses, managing a second-place finish to Bienamado in the Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes (gr. IT) in five subsequent starts.
Northern Quest (Rainbow Quest--Northern Goddess, by Night Shift) was bred by J. L. Lagardere. He earned $137,500 for the win, increasing his career earnings to over $500,000. The Golden Gate win marks his seventh in 19 career races.
The 4-5 favorite, Northern Quest returned $3.60, $2.80, and $2.20. Second-place Eagleton paid $6.40 and $2.80 and completed a $1 exacta worth $16.60. Entorchado finished third and was worth $2.60 to show. Floriselli came home fourth, followed by Robynhood and Flowing Rhythm. (Chart, Equibase