Quantum Merit Takes Big Leap in Class With Firecracker Win

Very Un Stables Quantum Merit moved up in class with success Saturday with an upset victory over more highly regarded Perfect Soul and Senor Swinger in the Firecracker Breeders Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs.

Royal Spy and longshot Puget Sound set sizzling fractions of :22 4/5, :45 4/5, and 1:09 3/5 for the first three-quarters of a mile as Quantum Merit settled comfortably into third under Shane Sellers. The eventual winner took the lead leaving the eighth pole and continued to the wire under solid hand ride, winning by 1 1/2 lengths. The final time for 1 mile on turf was 1:34/15, not far off the course record of 1:33 3/5.

Senor Swinger rallied under Pat Day to get second, but was disqualified and placed third after stewards determined he came out and impeded the progress of third-place finisher and 19-10 favorite Perfect Soul. Quantum Merit paid $13.40, $6.00, and $3.80, with Perfect Soul returning $4.20 and $2.60 and Senor Swinger worth $2.40.

Sellers said there was nothing magical about his ride aboard the winner. I was just trying to sit behind them (early pacesetters). I figured they would come back to me."

Royal Spy finished fifth and Puget Sound was eighth in the nine-horse field.

A 5-year-old gelded son of Hansel trained by Del W. Carroll II, Quantum Merit has won eight of 18 lifetime starts, all on grass. The Firecracker was the third start of 2004 for Quantum Merit, who was victorious in two stakes restricted to New York-breds in 2003.

(Chart, Equibase)