12/14/2004 12:00AM

Texas Chili to knock heads in claimer

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ALBANY, Calif. - Among the lessons to be learned in racing is don't fall in love with your horses.

Trainer Bill Morey Jr. knows that all too well, but he'll be feeling a little tightness in his stomach in back-to-back races at Golden Gate Fields on Thursday.

He sends out two of his best horses in a pair of claiming races.

Morey will run Texas Chili against five rivals in the day's featured seventh race, a $25,000 claimer at six furlongs.

"He's the best horse I ever bred," Morey said of the 6-year-old gelding, who in 23 starts has won $245,135 and 7 races, including the Sam J. Whiting Handicap at the Alameda County Fair in 2003.

"He bought a Cadillac Escalade for me," Morey said. "I remember my father once said, 'Every man deserves to own a Cadillac once,' and he did it for me."

By Roberto Grande out of Morey's mare Speedy Dish, Texas Chili returned from an eight-month layoff to run an even fifth when favored against similar on Nov. 24.

"He definitely needed that race," Morey said.

is a hard knocker who makes a big move in the lane. On Thursday, he'll be meeting a strong band, including Geardown, who has won 4 of 15 starts and $141,642 this year, and Private Aviator, who steps up off an impressive 3 1/2-length victory over this track.

Private Aviator has won 4 of 13 starts here, adding a pair of seconds and four more thirds. Texas Chili has an 11-3-3-2 mark here.

Savannah Thumper, Ninetenth-softhelaw, and Sutter Butte will be ahead of Geardown, Texas Chili, and Private Aviator early, but they will need to be at their best to remain ahead in the lane.

Morey actually entered Texas Chili for a $22,500 claiming price, picking up a two-pound weight advantage in the process.

"When I entered him, I didn't know who would ride, so I wanted to keep my options open and keep him light," Morey said. "If he runs his race, that two pounds probably won't matter."

Morey has mixed emotions about the prospect of losing Texas Chili, but says that as his breeder he would still reap benefits from breeders' awards even if Texas Chili were running for another owner.

"He has some younger siblings coming along," Morey said. "I have a Dixie Dot Com who will turn 2 on Jan. 1, and another Dixie Dot Com who becomes a yearling Jan. 1."

He also has Kid Ralston, a 3-year-old half-brother to Texas Chili by Rainbow Blues who will run in the sixth race, a $20,000 claimer at six furlongs.

Kid Ralston returned from a 3 1/2-month layoff with a victory when dropping to a $12,500 claimer, and he looks tough moving up.