AUBURN – Julien Couton will forgo the California sunshine for the rain and slop of the Pacific Northwest any time when the result is a big stakes win at Emerald Downs.
Closing Day of Emerald’s 18th season was on the wet side, but Couton was more than happy to take the journey from his Northern California base. It was his second big payday at the Auburn oval.
Del Rio Harbor, a 2-year-old gelding by Harbor The Gold, had Couton riding him for the first time and the pair dazzled in Sunday’s $75,000 Gottstein Futurity.
Del Rio Harbor broke on top, settled second behind Mebossman and David Lopez until pouring it on down the stretch for a 1¼-length win over that rival in the day’s feature race, the championship race of the season for 2-year-olds.
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“Yes, I am happy, of course, and why wouldn’t I be?” Couton said. “He’s a good 2-year-old and of good stature. He’s a big, long-striding guy. I think he can go longer. I got a perfect trip. I didn’t want to rush too much at the start and I just decided to let him make one run.”
Couton also traveled north to take the $65,000 Emerald Derby on Aug. 11 aboard Worldventurer. The win was the fourth in the Gottstein for trainer Doris Harwood and the third in the race for sire Harbor The Gold.
“He showed his class,” said Harwood, who won a pair of races Sunday and finished third in the trainer standings with 36. “He’s just one of those horses who does everything right. He’s kind. He’s had three different jockeys this year, and was successful.
“He stands in the gate good. They loaded him practically first and he watched them all fuss and said, ‘This is no big deal.’ He then comes out running and breaks on top. He sat there and rated like a good thing, and asked, ‘How fast do you want me to go?’ ”
Del Rio Harbor finished 1 1/16 miles in 1 minute, 43.19 seconds in the slop.
Del Rio Harbor, who returned $9.20, $5.20 and $3.40, improved his lifetime earnings to $108,293 with the winner’s share of $37,125 for owners Bar C Racing Stable and Desert Rose Racing. The gelding has four wins and a second in six starts, and this was is third stakes win of the season.
Earlier in the card, Dallon’s Gold and jockey Ronald Richard scored a mild upset in impressive fashion in the third race — the $50,000 NWSS Cahill Road Stakes — for 2-year-old fillies. Dallon’s Gold, who went off at 4-1, won by 3½ lengths in gate-to-wire fashion for trainer David Bennett. Chu And You, the 1-5 favorite suffered her first loss after four easy victories.
Dallon’s Gold paid $13.40, $6.80 and $21.00. Moony Moony, under Isaias Enriquez, returned $12 to place and a whopping $50 to show and Stikine Slough, with Rocco Bowen aboard, paid $26.80 to show.