06/29/2013 8:25PM

Pleasanton: Positive Response wins County of Alameda Handicap

William G. Vassar
Positive Response won the County of Alameda Handicap for his eighth victory from 23 career starts.

PLEASANTON, Calif. – For Positive Response ($8), it was a case of "if at first you don't succeed, try again," as he captured the $57,500 County of Alameda Handicap at the Alameda County Fair on Saturday.

The 5-year-old Pomeroy gelding finished second in last year's edition of the race, which was then called The Alamedan. But this year, with the early scratch of morning-line favorite Summer Hit, there was no stopping the multiple stakes winner.

Positive Response was fifth in the field of six, 5 1/2 lengths behind the pacesetting favorite, Control Seeker. He was inching up down the backstretch, sitting fourth, four lengths back, as Pepnic, the longest shot on the board, took over the lead.

"We wanted to be a little closer, but as he's matured, he's shown a different dimension and finished stronger," said winning trainer Billy Morey. "He seemed to be in OK position."

Positive Response moved out to the three path for room and gained momentum on the turn. He was still third in the stretch behind Pepnic and Tribal Tribute, but he was quickly cutting into their margin. He passed them near the sixteenth pole and was 2 1/4 lengths in front at the finish of the 1 1/16-mile race. His time was 1:43.16.

Pepnic held for second, holding off Tribal Tribute by a neck.

"He was kinda relaxing down too much down the backstretch, so I tapped him a little," said winning rider Kyle Frey. "Going into the turn, it looked like horses were kinda tiring. In the stretch, the other horses weren't running at all, and I was creeping up on them."

The scratch of Summer Hit, who would have been the lone speed in the race, as Gladding was when he defeated Positive Response in last year’s edition, helped Positive Response.

"It didn't hurt to see the two in front having to do a little work," said Morey, who owns Positive Response with Saul Gevertz, Roger Newman, and Ray Pagano.

Positive Response earned $32,050 for his eighth victory in 23 starts. He has earned $352,383.

Morey said Positive Response's next start likely would be in the Joseph Grace on turf at Santa Rosa.