01/10/2003 1:00AM

Business as usual for Fog City Willy

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ALBANY, Calif. - Fog City Willy's experience on Thursday at Golden Gate Fields has probably become routine for the 7-year-old gelding.

Often claimed and often a winner, he was met by trainer Terry Knight in the winner's circle following Thursday's seventh race and then led back to the barn of new trainer Gordon Wells.

His victory in the $16,000 claimer was his eighth in 11 starts since the start of 2002, and he was claimed for the seventh time during that same span.

"He's a nice old horse. He has real class," Wells said. "The guys who claimed him [Bob Gilley, James Quinn, and the TKO Stable] have had him two or three times before. He's nice to be around."

Knight wasn't shocked, but was somewhat saddened when Fog City Willy was claimed.

"Everybody gets attached to horses who try so hard," Knight said. "We didn't know that much about him except that he had an awful good record. If you're looking to have a claiming horse, he fits all the criteria. He loves to win."

Fog City Willy was claimed from owners Curt and Lila Lanning and trainer Ed Moger Jr. for $8,000 from a victory last Feb. 23 at Golden Gate Fields.

He won twice for new owner Barbara Gilley and trainer John Terry Marshall before trainer Jerry Hollendorfer claimed him for himself for $16,000 out of a victory March 23 at Golden Gate Fields.

Hollendorfer ran him for $25,000 on April 6 at Bay Meadows. Fog City Willy won and was claimed by trainer Kent Molinaro for his father, Robert.

Fog City Willy won a $12,500 starter-allowance race and placed fourth in a $40,000 optional claimer at Bay Meadows before Molinaro gave him a freshener.

He returned for a $12,500 tag at the Big Fresno Fair on Oct. 4. He won and was claimed by trainer Garland McAlester for owners Lowell and John Osburn.

His next start was at Golden Gate Fields, where he's won 5 of 7 starts. He won for $12,500 and was claimed by Wells.

Wells entered him for $16,000 on Dec. 14 and lost him to owner Sam Rivinius and Knight. Although Fog City Willy finished fourth that day, the claim continued his streak of making money for every owner in 2002.

"He's the best horse in my barn," Wells said. "At one time, he was cut out to be a pretty nice horse. He's got two old knees. You can see he's had knee operations sometime. But he runs through them.

"I only had him three weeks, but I didn't have a single problem with him, and we were bound and determined to get him back. When I saw him cool out after the race, he looked great, and he's fine this morning. In about three weeks, he'll be ready to run."

Sprinters featured

Dreamin Demon, who paid $88.40 winning his last start on Dec. 28, and Winthrop Joe, runner-up to track record holder Contradiction in a Jan. 1 five-furlong race, move from the claiming to allowance ranks in Sunday's six-furlong feature.

Dreamin Demon gave rider Jennifer Whitaker and trainer Howard Belvoir their first wins of the meet with his strong stretch run in a $25,000 claimer and could be the one to hold off late.

No Toro, Woodfield, Green Team, and My Captain round out the field.

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