Couton Steals Another Stakes at GGF, Wins Pacific Heights With Catsalot

Couton Steals Another Stakes at GGF, Wins Pacific Heights With Catsalot

     Jockey Julien Couton stole a stakes race at Golden Gate Fields for the second straight week when he guided Catsalot to a wire-to-wire victory in the $75,600 Pacific Heights Stakes.

    Couton, who earned his first career stakes win on Dec. 11 when he piloted Positive Response to a front-running score in the Gold Rush Stakes, was all alone on the lead with Catsalot throughout the 1 1/8-mile Pacific Heights.

     Couton was pleasantly surprised to be setting the pace with Catsalot, a 4-year-old filly who until Saturday had always dropped well back in her races before mounting a late run.
Catsalot strolled through a half-mile in 50.82 and six furlongs in 1:14.96.

     “Usually she drops back and relaxes in the back of the field, but today she broke good and nobody wanted to go to the lead,” said Couton.  “I let her go and she was nice and relaxed out there.  I looked back at the three-eighths pole and I said, ‘wow,’ they’re going to let me have this one.’  

     “She gave me a really nice kick in the stretch,” continued Couton.  “She loved the mile-and-an-eighth.  She’ll go a mile-and-a-quarter or a mile-and-a-half no problem.”

     Catsalot, trained by Leonard Powell, easily held off 2-to-5 favorite Antares World through the stretch to win the Pacific Heights by 3 1/4 lengths in 1:51.96.  I Can Hear finished third.

     “She’s a filly that the key is to get her to relax,” said Powell.  “She’s very anxious.  Usually that means we’re well behind because it’s easier for a horse to relax like that.  Antares World looked like the only speed.  I told Julien to let her get her momentum but it was up to him to put her on the lead.”

     Couton is obviously making the right decisions lately and the Frenchman is enjoying his stakes run.  “Two stakes in a row…unbelievable,” said Couton, smiling broadly and shaking his head.

     Catsalot went off at 9-to-2 in the field of six and returned $11.60.  Owned by Magalen O. Bryant, Catsalot earned $45,300 for her first stakes victory and her fifth win in 26 career starts.

      Jockey Frank Alvarado said Antares World, a multiple stakes-winner who had won her previous four starts at Golden Gate Fields this year, wasn’t herself Saturday.

     “She did not fire at all today,” said Alvarado.  “When I tried to get her to pick it up at the half-mile pole I got nothing.”

     Golden Gate Fields will conclude its 2010 fall meeting Sunday with a nine-race program.  Post time is 12:45 p.m. and the track is offering $1 general parking, $1 general admission, $1 beers, $1 hot dogs, $1 sodas and $1 programs.  The track will also show all the available football games via the NFL Sunday Ticket.