06/30/2002 11:00PM

Morey colt looks ready for stakes

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PLEASANTON, Calif. - Trainer William J. Morey Jr. had high hopes for Wild Celebration last year when the colt was a 2-year-old.

Wild Celebration can live up to those hopes Wednesday when he meets five rivals in the $40,000-added Pleasanton Stakes at the Alameda County Fair.

All six 3-year-olds in the 1 1/16-mile race will be looking for their initial stakes victory.

Wild Celebration won two of his first three starts and carried a two-race win streak into his stakes debut in the Golden Bear Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on Nov. 24. He won an early speed duel but finished second to Cappuchino.

Entered in the one-mile Gold Rush Stakes on Dec. 15 at Golden Gate Fields for his first test around two turns, Wild Celebration was kept off the pace but didn't fire, as Danthebluegrassman, U S S Tinosa, and Cappuchino ran one-two-three in a fast race.

Morey was disappointed at the time, but six months of reflection have tempered some of those feelings.

"Those horse came out of that race and did well," he said, noting each of the top three finishers have won stakes races since.

Wild Celebration has run three times since, including an 11th in the Baldwin Stakes at Santa Anita when he did not handle the hillside turf course.

Wild Celebration finished fifth against older horses in a May 8 sprint at Bay Meadows, won by stablemate Texas Chili.

"You can draw a line through that race," Morey said. "I think the line in the Form explains it - 'jumped every shadow.' "

Wild Celebration met older again in a June 12 sprint, finishing fourth while not really threatening the speedy Sempai. The effort pleased Morey.

"I don't like to run 3-year-olds with older, especially at this time of the year, but there was just no other place," Morey said.

Wild Celebration meets his own age group Wednesday and may even be favored in the race.

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