10/14/2011 11:44AM

Fresno: Bold Chieftain in spotlight in Bull Dog


The $50,000 Bull Dog at the Big Fresno Fair holds a special place in trainer Bill Morey Jr.’s heart, and he hopes Sunday’s 1 1/8-mile race will make the race even more special.

The Morey-trained Bold Chieftain will be making his 36th start in a stakes in the Bull Dog while looking for his 14th stakes victory and trying to add to earnings of $1,613,071.

The 8-year-old Bold Chieftain has four rivals, including Uh Oh Bango, who edged him by a head in the Grade 3 Berkeley at Golden Gate Fields on May 30.

Morey thinks of the Bull Dog with fondness because, he said, the victory by Pass the Heat in 2007 gave him stakes wins at every California Thoroughbred track.

“The Bull Dog was a missing link for me,” Morey said.

What could make the 2011 Bull Dog even more special is that it could be Bold Chieftain’s final race.

Bold Chieftain’s owners – a group that includes Morey – are finalizing a deal where Bold Chieftain will stand at Ellen Jackson’s Victory Rose Farm in Vacaville, Calif., next year. Morey said that if Bold Chieftain were to run poorly Sunday, he’d probably retire, but that if he wins or runs well, he might make his final appearance in the Grade 3 All American next month at Golden Gate Fields.

“We’re very fortunate to have Ellen Jackson involved,” said Morey. “She’s excited about the horse. He won’t be just another horse down the shed row for her.”

Morey retired Bold Chieftain last year but brought him back to the races this year when the farm where he was supposed to stand was sold.

Morey concedes the 8-year-old Bold Chieftain may have lost a step. He’s run second in five of six starts this year, including his last four starts. That run of runner-up finishes includes the Grade 3 Berkeley, which he lost by a head for the third straight year, the Alamedan Handicap, and the Joseph Grace.

The Bull Dog looks paceless, meaning it could come down to a chess match between Bold Chieftain and his rider, Russell Baze, and Uh Oh Bango and his rider, Aaron Gryder, who guided him to victory in the Berkeley.

Uh Oh Bango sat close to the pace in the Berkeley and held off Bold Chieftain, digging in after Bold Chieftain stuck his nose in front between calls in the stretch. Bold Chieftain is a stalker who usually sits a few lengths off the lead.

◗ Sunday’s closing day card also includes the $75,000 Charlie Palmer Futurity, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds that attracted a field of seven.

The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Longview Drive will make his first start since winning the Cavonnier at Santa Rosa on Aug. 14. A son of Pulpit, Longview Drive, has two wins and a second in his three starts. He seems the speed of the race, has been working steadily, and is bred to like the distance.

Hurry Home Clover, the only winner of a race around two turns in the field, and stakes-placed Mighty Monsoon are the primary challengers.