Northern Quest rallied from last to win the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) by 1 1/2 lengths Monday at Del Mar, stopping the timer after 1 3/8 miles in stakes-record time of 2:12.65, just 1/5 of a second off the track record.
Over good turf, Alvo Certo led from the start, setting fractions of :47.95 and 1:12.50 while maintaining a one-length lead over Chelsea Barracks. Around the third turn, those two continued in the same order as Northern Quest ranged up under jockey Chris McCarron. McCarron guided the winner outside as the field approached the stretch and drove to the lead en route to the win.
"I had the great trip," McCarron said. "It worked out perfect. It opened up just when I needed it to, and when I asked, the answer was there."
Alvo Certo drifted off the rail in the stretch and veered back inside as Perssonet attempted to squeeze through, causing the former to be disqualified due to the interference.
"I don't know if I could have caught the winner," said Perssonet's jockey Garrett Gomez. "He had more momentum than me. But Chris (McCarron, on Northern Quest) and I had the same trip and he got to run and I didn't. When I pushed the button, he went. But then I had to take his legs about up in the air to stop him from running up on heels. It was too bad."
Perssonet was placed second, and Alvo Certo third. Chelsea Barracks came home fourth, followed by Blueprint, Clure, Wales, and Casino King.
Sent off at just under 2-1, Northern Quest paid $5.80 for the win and led a $1 exacta worth $30.70. The Del Mar Handicap was the final leg of a national pick three wager which also included the Diana Handicap (gr. IIT) from Saratoga, and the Arlington Matron (gr. III) from Arlington International. As the first leg was won by the betting favorite, and with the second wagering choice winning the second and third legs, a $1 wager returned $36.75 from a pool of $413,981.
Northern Quest (Rainbow Quest--Northern Goddess, by Night Shift) is trained by Bobby Frankel for 3 Plus U Stable. He earned $150,000 for the win, his sixth from 13 starts and his second in three North American starts. After finishing a close-up third in the Dallas Turf Cup Handicap in June, Northern Quest won the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) in July. The 5-year-old was bred in France by J.L. Lagardere. (Chart, Equibase