01/04/2010 12:00AM

Trainer profile: Bill Morey Jr.


Bill Morey Jr. doesn't take himself too seriously, but he takes his profession as a trainer quite seriously.

Morey guided Bold Chieftain to millionaire status last year. Morey, who was part of a group that bred and owns the 6-year-old horse, previously trained millionaire Dixie Dot Com.

Considering he went broke in his first stint as a trainer as a 20-year-old at Caliente in 1960, Morey understands the ups and downs of the sport - and business - of horse racing. That could explain his unflappable nature and the fun he has in the sport.

Now 69, Morey may be as well known in Northern California as the father of Billy Morey, the only trainer in three decades to defeat Jerry Hollendorfer for a meet championship, as he is for his millionaires.

"I taught him everything he knows, but not everything I know," Morey jokes about his son.

He also jokes, "Now I go to him for advice."

Despite saddling more than 6,900 horses and recording nearly 1,200 victories, Morey may be on the square about getting advice from his son.

"I don't think you can ever learn enough about this business," he said.

Morey's father owned a few horses and even served as his own 200-pound exercise rider. He took Morey to the races at Bay Meadows when Morey was just a child, planting a seed that blossomed into a successful career.

Morey got exposure to racing as a hotwalker and learning about horses in various barns before his ill-fated training stint at Caliente.

After getting drafted and serving in the armed forces, Morey returned to the track in 1968 after his discharge. He got his first win with his lone horse at Pleasanton in 1970.

He learned plenty about horses along the way, and it shows by the longevity of the careers of his runners.

He says, "Everyone learns the ABC's," and, like most trainers he spends a large portion of his days "checking knees, ankles, and feet."

Morey can't recall the last time he claimed a horse but points with pride to last year's 20-percent winning percentage.

He also takes pride in developing young horses and knows when it's best to show patience.

"We really watch their growth spurts, and don't race them too hard when they're in a growing spurt," he said. "That's one reason we've kept horses around so long."

Morey shows a profit with 2-year-olds and is good with first- and second-out maidens.

He says he always tries to be candid in communication with owners about what they have and that he tries to develop a program that agrees with the individual horse.

"I think we have a good program for young horses," he said. "Luck is a big factor, but sometimes you make your own luck."

Morey has had his share of stakes winners, but when he got Dixie Dot Com for the late Bart and Ronelle Heller, he was well prepared to take the next step up to the national scene and graded stakes races.

Morey always dreamed of training some top-level horses and says he studied what top trainers did with their best runners.

"When I first started out, I did a lot of reading about trainers like Charlie Whittingham, Vincent O'Brien, and Laz Barrera and what they did with their good horses. When I got my first good horse, I was ready, and I still go back and read about them."

Dixie Dot Com had a minor conformation problem and swung his right leg, but he recognized that like many professional athletes, Dixie Dot Com could still run despite a less-than-classic stride.

"You just try to keep that in mind and watch them closely," Morey said.

Morey does well with allowance and stakes runners because he recognizes how much they put into their races and says he tries to "space their races more."