05/05/2002 11:00PM

Morey has potent pair in sprint


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer Bill Morey Jr. will bookend a good week of racing at Bay Meadows with his top sprinters.

Morey will run Mellow Fellow in Saturday's $200,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint, a Grade 3.

He sends out a potent duo of Texas Chili and Wild Celebration in Wednesday's Bay Meadows feature race, a six-furlong $40,000 optional claiming race. Also entered is Fog City Willy, who has won five straight while moving up from the $8,000 claiming level.

"This will be a good competitive race," Morey said. "There's no telling how good," he said, Fog City Willy is.

Morey knows, though, that his pair is pretty good.

"We had nowhere to run the 3-year-old," he said of Wild Celebration. "This isn't the perfect spot, but he needs to run. I hate to see him knocking heads with older. Hopefully, he'll get a lot out of it. We need to sprint him. I don't know if he really wants to go two turns."

Morey adds blinkers today, something he has considered doing for a while.

"He had a good work with blinkers going with Mellow Fellow as a team," Morey said.

Wild Celebration didn't run much in his Del Mar debut last summer, finishing seventh, but he won his next two starts at Bay Meadows, where he is undefeated. He battled on the lead in the six-furlong Golden Bear Stakes at Golden Gate Fields in his next start and finished second to Cappuchino.

Then came a poor try in his first attempt at a mile, the Gold Rush Stakes, won by Danthebluegrassman. After a brief freshener, he finished 11th down Santa Anita's Hillside Turf Course in the Baldwin Stakes, a Grade 3, on Feb. 24.

Wednesday will be his first start since then, and he comes into the race with a bullet 1:11.80 six-furlong work.

While Morey always had high hopes for Wild Celebration, he wasn't sure what to expect from Texas Chili, a 4-year-old gelding he bred and owns.

"For a while, I thought he was a dud," Morey said. "He's been a great surprise to me. He's nothing spectacular in the morning, but in the afternoon, he gets his game face on. I've never seen a horse work so slow and run so well."

In the seven starts since a seventh-place finish in his debut, Texas Chili has not finished worse than second. Attempting a hat trick after winning his first two starts of the year, he missed by a nose at this level in his last start on March 27 at Golden Gate Fields.

Two closers definite for Sprint

Swept Overboard and Mellow Fellow, both of whom like to fire from off the pace, are listed as definites for Saturday's Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint. Swept Overboard is listed at 122 pounds with Mellow Fellow assigned 119.

Explicit, who has won sprint stakes at the Fair Grounds and Oaklawn in his past two starts, and Alyzig are also planning to run in the $200,000-six-furlong race.

* The $100,000 Ascot Handicap will be run Sunday at 1 1/16 miles on the Longden Turf Course. Bobby Frankel plans to send up 120-pound highweight Six Hitter for his U.S. debut. Doc Holiday, second in the La Puente Stakes at Santa Anita on April 14, is also scheduled to run.

* Bay Meadows fans bet a record $1,997,798 on the Kentucky Derby, topping last year's total of $1,983,616. Overall, Saturday's handle was $9,394,754, the fourth-largest handle in northern California history, trailing the 2001 and 2000 Breeders' Cup days and 2000 Kentucky Derby Day.

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