03/25/2007 11:00PM

Alameda fair looks to take over some dates


The Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, Calif., is looking into installing a synthetic surface that would allow the track to pick up some of the dates that Bay Meadows will give up next year. The president of Bay Meadows, Jack Liebau said last Thursday that the track would not seek 2008 racing dates after the California Horse Racing Board refused to waive its order that tracks with four weeks or more of continuous racing must install a synthetic surface by the end of the year.

Pleasanton, which is only about 35 miles from Golden Gate Fields, races for two weeks in late June and early July and serves as a year-round training facility. Rick Pickering, the Alameda County Fair's CEO, said a synthetic surface would make the track there a more desirable place to race and train, but that the fair would need financial help to pay for the $8 million it would cost to install an artificial surface over its one-mile oval.

"We plan to be part of the solution for the future," he said.

While plans are to develop Bay Meadows and the land around it within a few years, the county fairs sit on public land, making them almost development-proof.

Trainers' group explains stance

Many were puzzled that the California Thoroughbred Trainers, which represents trainers in the state in negotiations with tracks, came out against the synthetic surface exemption for Bay Meadows. On Sunday, Charlie Dougherty Jr., the Northern California liaison for the trainers' group, explained to local trainers the reason for the stance: an exemption for Bay Meadows could lead to an exemption for Santa Anita.

Santa Anita, which is in the middle of its winter-spring meet, is planning to install a synthetic surface later this year. So is Golden Gate Fields. Del Mar is in the middle of installing a synthetic surface, and Hollywood installed one last year.

But Dougherty said that despite the trainers' group's stand against the exemption, he wishes Bay Meadows would stay open.

"I very much want to see Bay Meadows stay in existence," he said. "I have always felt it was best for Northern California racing to have two major tracks."

Meanwhile, Liebau was talking with trainers on Sunday, encouraging them to ask the trainers' group to reconsider its stance and members of the state racing board to reconsider granting Bay Meadows a synthetic-surface exemption. Liebau also spoke to frontside workers, asking them to contact the racing board and government representatives.

Sherman keeps mare's 'options open'

Eleven California-breds were nominated for Saturday's $100,000 California Turf Sprint Championship at five furlongs on the turf course at Bay Meadows, including one surprise.

Vaca City Flyer, freshened since a runner-up effort against Shaggy Mane in the William Kyne last Oct. 21, was nominated against males by trainer Art Sherman.

Bonfante is listed as the 120-pound highweight, one more than Vaderator, who is planning to run after winning the Fairfax at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 3. Vaca City Flyer would carry 115 pounds.

"You like to keep your options open," said Sherman, who would prefer to let the 6-year-old mare make her 2007 debut in next month's Monterey Handicap, where she is the defending champion. "I'd rather run her against fillies and mares, but girls have been known to beat the boys. In this game, you never know what you might fall into."

Bwana Bull works

Bwana Bull's preparations for the April 7 Santa Anita Derby have him right on target for that major Kentucky Derby prep. He worked six furlongs Saturday at Bay Meadows in 1:12.80 with the best of three marks on the work tab.

With regular rider Russell Baze in New York on Saturday, Kevin Radke worked the colt for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

"I know Kevin was very pleased with the work," Baze said Sunday after his return to the Bay Area and riding millionaire Full Moon Madness in his 12-year-old debut.

Despite the fifth-place finish, Baze said the old warrior ran well.

"He doesn't have quite the speed he used to so I was a little farther back early than usual, and someone beat me to a hole, but he raced strong and came back well," Baze said.

One of six has grass experience

Six 3-year-olds will go 1 1/16 miles on the turf in a $40,000 optional claimer in Wednesday's Bay Meadows feature.

Hollendorfer sends out Regal Times, fourth behind entrymate Brave Sun following a six-week layoff, and Amazin Blue, claimed for $100,000 from his maiden win at Santa Anita on Feb. 22. Cayambe, who just defeated Regal Times after losing to him in a maiden race last year, is also entered. Of the six runners, only Rage Till Dawn, who comes in with a two-race winning streak, has raced on the turf, finishing eighth here in a $32,000 maiden claimer last year.