Wednesday, February 29, 2012


2011 CALIFORNIA DERBY CHAMPION POSITIVE RESPONSE RETURNS TO RACES


ALBANY -- Positive Response, the 2011 California Derby winner, will return from a layoff of more than 11 months when he competes in the featured seventh race at Golden Gate Fields Thursday.

The one-mile allowance test for older horses will be Positive Response’s first race since March 26 of last year when he finished eighth in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. Positive Response was favored in the Spiral, a race that was won by eventual Kentucky Derby champ Animal Kingdom.


Positive Response’s 3-year-old campaign was front-loaded as the gelding made four stakes starts in 10 weeks. Positive Response won the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 15, finished third in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate on Feb. 12, and won the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway by seven lengths on March 5 before disappointing as the 8-to-5 favorite in the Spiral.

Positive Response dueled on the lead for six furlongs in the 1 1/8-mile Spiral before throwing in the towel in the stretch. Trainer William E. Morey announced after the race that Positive Response would be given a well-deserved break and then be pointed for some summer racing.

“We expected to have him back for a summer campaign,” said Morey. “We tried to give him a brief freshening at the racetrack but he never got back to being the same horse he was before the Spiral. He was really tired and needed more time than I initially thought so we turned him out. The time off the racetrack really helped.”

Positive Response enjoyed some rest and relaxation at Legacy Ranch (located just outside of Clements) and then rejoined the Morey barn in the fall. Positive Response has been training for his comeback start since December and has had 10 recorded workouts, including a nice five-furlong move in 1:00 4/5 handily last Sunday.

“His works have been good,” said Morey, who has secured the services of jockey Aaron Gryder to ride Positive Response Thursday. “Aaron has been working him and likes the way he’s training. I really don’t know what to expect off the layoff, but he’s doing well.”

Positive Response will face five tough rivals Thursday as the feature race field includes: Skip Shot, a Grade 2 stakes-winner who has earned $290,950; Autism Awareness, owner of two Grade 3 stakes victories; Northern Causeway, the 2011 British Columbia Derby winner; Dunmore East, who ruined Bold Chieftain’s farewell party when he upset the multiple stakes-winning millionaire in an allowance race on Jan. 16; and Live Sundays, who is coming off a second-place finish in the six-furlong Albany Stakes on Jan. 28.

First post at Golden Gate Fields Thursday is 12:45 p.m. Post time for the seventh race is 3:45 p.m.


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