Race of the Week 2017

California Derby, A Positive Response For All

When Positive Response crossed the wire first in the $100,000 California Derby on Saturday, it marked a big win for the combination of trainer William E. Morey and jockey Julien Couton. For Morey, it was a satisfying victory. The up and coming trainer, and three partners, purchased Positive Response for $75,000 and brought him in from Canada. Morey thought he would “fit well on the Tapeta surface” and wanted a horse he thought could win the California Derby.  Mission accomplished. However, one could argue that it was an even bigger win for the 29 year-old Couton, who has been trying to break into the top of the jockey standings since arriving in 2009.
The jockey has been on a hot streak since… well… since Positive Responses’ last victory.  The rider from Aizenay, a commune in western France, won his first ever stakes race on December 11th when he was in the saddle of Positive Response for the Gold Rush Stakes.
As luck would have it, he picked up the mount when jockey Frank Alvarado, who had ridden Response in his first two local races, decided to ride stakes winner Luckarack. The latter finished 7th and Couton was on his way. The Gold Rush Stakes was the first time Couton had ever been on the back of Positive Response. He celebrated in the winners circle by pumping both fists in the air.
“When Frank chose Luckarack, I put Julien on,” Morey said. “Julien has been riding very well for me and working horses for me in the morning. We make a good team.”
Couton liked winning a stakes race so much, he did it again the next week when he guided Catsalot to a win in the $75,000 Pacific Heights Stakes. In the month since, Couton has been winning races and picking up new business along the way. Last week, he won 11 races including a career high four wins in one day, last Sunday. His streak has put him tied for the jockey lead with perennial bay area king pin Russell Baze, three weeks into the new meet. Baze has the most wins of any jockey in the history of horse racing and has only lost a Golden Gate Fields riding title a few times in the past 25 years. The latest being in 2006 when Martin Garcia won, before moving down south.
“I think its really good for the area to have a jockey race,” Couton said. “I have a lot of confidence right now. We’re picking up new barns and we just take it day by day.”
It remains to be seen if Couton can keep up with the 52-year-old Baze, but one thing is for sure. He wouldn’t mind a few more scenes like Saturday, when yet again, he was in the winners circle, pumping both fists in the air.



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Older Comments about California Derby, A Positive Response For All...

I am surprised that Santa Anita did not choose Tapeta when the synthetic mandate was enforced. Stronach also owns Golden Gate and he has Tapeta at that venue. Former trainer Michael Dickinson is a perfectionist, so it is not surprising that he has come up with a fair, safe surface.
I hear the fewest complaints coming from horsemen as regards the Tapeta than any outher surface they have trained or run over...Gets high marks especially for consistency of surface unlike Poly that is subject to temperatures
Positive Response looked good winning the California Derby at GG Fields last month. An improving colt by Pomeroy out of a Farma Way mare Lisa's Approval, who was a black-type winner in 30 career starts. Julien Couton is a good jockey and keeps improving just like this colt. They make a formidable duo, and don't be surprised if they knock off Comma To The Top, in the El Camino Real Derby. I like this colt alot. His breeding is very good, and when I see that name Boundary on the pedigree, I can't help but think of Big Brown. One thing about Northern California racing is it is a haven for great trainers who fall under the radar int he national spotlight. Just a few names here. Ofcourse, the king, Jerry Hollendorfer, and then in no particular order you hace Jeff Bonde, Art Sherman, William Morey, Greg Gilchrist, Steve Sherman, and John Martin. I'm sure there are others to add to the list, but if these guys had some of those high-profile clients they would compete with Pletcher's, Asmussen's and Baffert's off the world. Long Live No. Cal Racing!
The GGF Tapeta surface is about as fair a surface as i've seen. It does sometimes have a speed bias but a lot of winners come from behind. Generally tho if you are a good speed horse you will do well there. As far as Comma to the Top,i will say beating the Cal Derby field is nothing to brag about, it had a lot of question marks in it, but seeing how "Response is improving quickly, i think he has a shot in the El Camino.Thanks for the posts.Feel free to ask anything.
Comma to the Top is supposed to be coming up for the El Camino Real Derby, and I can't see anybody from that California Derby field beating him
Don, great to have you join our raving fan base of passionate horse racing fans. I look forward to following your blog. Quick question for you. How are the Golden Gate surfaces playing? Any biases or patterns the fans should be aware of?
Thank you. I think Positive Response is improving every time he steps on the track. His workouts have been better each time and his races have also. Learning to rate off the pace was huge for him and he is always finishing strong.
Great post Don and welcome to the Nation! I saw that Positive Response got an 83 Beyer for the win. Do you think he's got a shot to improve on the Derby trail? They must have liked him if they paid $75k for a Canadian gelding.

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