12/14/2010 1:17PM

Morey benefits from client's advice


ALBANY, Calif. – Trainer Billy Morey will be paying close attention to one of his clients, Don Brauer, from now on.

Brauer, a part owner in Sir Al, who has won more than $100,000 since joining Morey’s barn 16 months ago, has tipped Morey about several horses.

Morey has purchased two: Hudson Landing, winner of last spring’s Alcatraz Stakes, and Positive Response, who scored an impressive wire-to-wire victory in Saturday’s Gold Rush Stakes.

“He shoots horses at me from time to time,” said Morey. “These are the only two we both really liked.”

Morey studied Positive Response’s form, which included a third-place finish in a $40,000 maiden claimer followed by a victory in a $50,000 maiden claimer at Woodbine.

He also examined the gelding’s breeding: by Pomeroy, who won a pair of Grade 1’s, the King’s Bishop and Forego, out of the Farma Way mare Lisa’s Approval, a stakes-placed earner of $101,498 whose first foal, R B Applause has a 2-for-14 record.

What sold Morey, though, was watching tapes of the gelding.

“He had a steady way about him,” said Morey. “On this track, I think that’s the way to go.

“And they had a good program here for 2-year-olds turning into 3-year-olds.”

After what Morey called a “disappointing” fourth-place finish in his Golden Gate debut, Positive Response came back two weeks later and was a wire-to-wire winner in a starter allowance.

He ran a nearly identical race through the first half-mile of the Gold Rush, but he ran the second half of the race faster than the first half, beating Grand Maneuver by six lengths in 1:37.75, nearly two seconds faster than his starter victory (1:39.67) even though his Beyer Speed Figure was only a 78 after earning an 67 in his one-mile debut.

Winning rider Julien Couton says he is “very excited about him” and the way he ran.

“He broke good and made the pace nice and easy,” said Couton. “He was nice and relaxed all the way around the track. He’s still a little green. In the stretch, he started looking at things, so I had to stay busy on him.”

When Couton and Morey talked before the race, the decision was just to let Positive Response relax and run comfortably whether he was on the lead or stalking.

“He didn’t give me any instructions,” said Couton, who led by 2 1/2 lengths through opening fractions of 24.71 and 49.65 s econds.

“Both fractions looked awfully good to me,” said Morey. “He’s gotten the lead both times he has stretched out, and it doesn’t seem like distance will be a problem the way he’s finished. It’s not like he’s a speed horse just hanging on.”

Morey has been impressed with the gelding’s demeanor.

“Ever since the first day when the boys brought him out of the barn for me to look at him, he’s been professional. He acts like a very mature horse.”

The $100,000 California Derby at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 15 is next on Positive Response’s schedule.

Another milestone

Couton’s victory aboard Positive Response was the 29-year-old French rider’s first stakes victory. Two weeks earlier, Juan Hernandez scored his first stakes victory aboard Cathy’s Crunches in the Corte Madera. One week earlier Kyle Frey recorded his first career victory.

The first stakes victory felt “awesome” to Couton, who came to America in 2008 and has had the best year of his career this year with 79 victories from 630 mounts.

Morey said he used Couton because “he’s ridden quite a few winners for me” about 40 percent of his mounts.

Other trainers, such as Aggie Ordonez, appreciate Couton’s understanding of horses and ability to relay important information to them after working them.

“I really love the horse,” Couton said. “In France, I spent hours learning horses.”

Couton’s story is a familiar one at the track. He walked, groomed, galloped, and exercised horses.

“I was trained to do everything,” he said. “I got a good education in France. I know what I have between my legs when I’m riding a horse.”

He began riding at age 17, scoring his maiden victory with only his second mount.

Brad Edwards became his agent after the 2009 Fresno meet.

“You could see he had a lot of skills even though he was riding 100-1 shots,” said Edwards. “When he’s riding on instinct, I think nobody rides better than him.”

Couton had 10 wins at the 2009 Golden Gate fall meet, 33 wins at the winter-spring meet, and has 18 wins at the current meet.

Couton is single but says, “I’m married to the horses.”

Hollendorfer pays off

It’s not often that a Jerry Hollendorfer-trained horse is the longest shot on the board, but, on Sunday, Hollendorfer had two runners in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race and they were the two highest prices in the field.

Rainbow Luck, the longest shot at 11.30-to-1, won the race with stablemate Cover Story running second at 9.70-to-1. The Hollendorfer exacta paid $95.30 on a $1 bet with the $2 quinella returning $103.40. The $1 trifecta with Eyes of the Prize paid $396.90, and the $1 superfecta with Bleach Blonde fourth – as favored Red Hot Charlotte ran fifth on the race that was switched from the turf to the main track – paid $1,254.70.

Pacific Heights may move

Saturday’s $75,000 Pacific Heights for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the turf may have to be moved to the main track if predictions of rain hold up.

The surface shouldn’t make a difference for the Steve Specht-trained Antares World, who won both the Corte Madera and California Oaks on the main track and the Golden Poppy on the turf.