Updated on 09/17/2011 10:14PM

Willow O Wisp takes Del Mar Derby

Willow O Wisp wins the Del Mar Derby under Garrett Gomez on Monday.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Vladimir Cerin is a huge soccer fan, and on Monday, in the Grade 2, $400,000 , the trainer scored a hat trick with Willow O Wisp.

Just as in the La Jolla Handicap, and the Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap before that, Willow O Wisp was able to control a moderate pace. And for the third straight time, no one could overtake him late.

Racing over a Del Mar grass course that has been kind to front-runners all meet long, Willow O Wisp led from start to finish to score a one-length victory over Tedo, who nosed out Osidy for second before a Labor Day crowd of 22,481.

Willow O Wisp ($7.40) got away with a half-mile in 46.71 seconds, which is not demanding on this course. He flew through the final three furlongs in 35.57 seconds en route to a course record of 1:45.85 for 1 1/8 miles on a firm course that has produced record times all meet long. The previous mark, 1:45.87, was set two years ago by Special Ring.

The complexion of the race changed dramatically at the start, when Tedo was bumped, Becrux broke slowly, and High Limit was rated just off the pace, allowing Willow O Wisp and jockey Garrett Gomez an uncontested lead. He had to survive a foul claim by Felipe Martinez, the rider of Tedo, who alleged interference at the start. The stewards made no change.

"The idea was to break well and see what everyone else does," Cerin said. "If someone was sent, we'd sit off the pace. If not, we'd be on the lead. I left it up to Garrett to make the right decision, which he does, always."

Becrux, who led from start to finish in a division of the Oceanside Stakes on opening day, ran a remarkable race in defeat. After breaking slowly and finding himself last of 10 early, he began to creep forward on the final turn, but had to check when running into a roadblock. He re-rallied to finish fifth while beaten just two lengths.

Willow O Wisp was purchased privately in Florida last winter by Cerin on behalf of owner Robert Alexander. The 3-year-old gelding, a son of Misnomer, has won 4 of 5 starts since then, his lone loss coming in Hollywood Park's Will Rogers Handicap.

* Earlier on Monday's card, Total Impact returned from a seven-month layoff to capture the $86,225 Windy Sands Handicap with a last-to-first rush against six rivals in the one-mile race. He beat Anziyan Royalty by a neck, with Truly a Judge third and favored Preachinatthebar fourth. Rene Douglas rode Total Impact ($18.40), the 2004 Hollywood Gold Cup winner, for trainer Laura de Seroux. He completed one mile on the fast main track in 1:35.62.