06/01/2008 11:00PM

All eyes on Indyanne in season debut


ALBANY, Calif. - Indyanne, who could be the most exciting horse in Northern California, returns to the races Friday in a 5 1/2-furlong $50,000 optional claimer.

The 3-year-old filly, who has won her two career starts by a combined 16 lengths, had minor ankle surgery last year after winning the Bay Meadows Debutante on Sept.o8.

Trainer Greg Gilchrist originally penciled her in for a similar race on June 22, the last day of the meeting. Friday's race was originally in the condition book for last Sunday, but did not fill. It finally filled for Friday when the distance was shortened from six furlongs.

"There's a race like this at six furlongs the last day at Golden Gate," said Gilchrist, who would like the Indian Charlie filly to have one more work before she races. "If I waited until June 22 and the race didn't go, it's not like they could write an extra for the next day."

Gilchrist said he would have entered at 5 1/2 or six furlongs now that he has a six-furlong work in the filly. She earned a bullet, timed in 1:13.20, the fastest of nine works at the distance on Saturday.

"I couldn't make the race if it were Sunday," Gilchrist said. "When it didn't go, it gave me a chance to work her three-quarters."

Gilchrist nominated the filly to a Calder stakes, but said he didn't really want to run first time out for the year in a stakes.

Friday's race will be Indyanne's first against older rivals.

Gilchrist purchased Indyanne for $375,000 for David and Jill Heerensperger last February. Her sire, Indian Charlie, won the Santa Anita Derby and finished third in the Kentucky Derby. Her dam, Merchant, was winless in four tries but is the dam of foreign Grade 1 winner Distintoydifferente.

As excited as he is to have Indyanne back at the races, Gilchrist said he will keep his "feet on the ground" and take things one race at a time.

Closely matched four in Yerba Buena

Four runners are listed as definite for Saturday's $75,000 Yerba Buena at 1 3/8 miles on the turf. But unlike Saturday's Grade 3 Golden Gate Fields Turf, which turned into a virtual walkover for Sudan, the Yerba Buena seems to be competitive, with no proven marathoners currently slated to run.

Wild Promises, who has hit the board in all 12 career starts, and comes off her initial stakes victory in the May 11 Mother's Day Handicap at Bay Meadows, has the best credentials of the "definites."

Also expected to run are She's Sensational, who puts a three-race win streak on the line; Irish-bred Marzelline, who has won two straight starts, including a race over the Lakeside Turf Course on May 24; and Island Hop.

Trainer Wes Gilbert, 79, dies

Trainer Wes Gilbert, 79, who trained horses along the West Coast and in Canada for 50 years, died Mayo20 at his home in Hayward, Calif. He suffered a stroke three years ago.

Gilbert trained in Northern California for 30 years and was best known for Hap Logue, who set a Northern California record of 11 straight victories in 1973 before finishing third in the $25,000 Saratoga Starter Handicap at Bay Meadows on Dec. 2, 1973.

He is survived by his wife, Jean, daughter, Wanda Carpenter, and two grandchildren.

Local plans for Belmont Day

Golden Gate Fields plans a big day around Saturday's Belmont Stakes and will offer Belmont wagering on Friday.

The track will open early Saturday, with grandstand and clubhouse gates opening at 8:30 a.m. and Turf Club at 10. All 13 races on the Belmont card will be simulcast, beginning at 9 a.m. local time. The first live race at Golden Gate goes off at 12:15.

The track also will host a Wine Festival, trackside near the winner's circle, with a $15 admission that includes five tastings of wines from Napa, Sonoma, and the Central Coast. A jazz band will perform throughout the day.