05/08/2006 12:00AM

Attendance, fields expected to be bigger

Email

SAN MATEO, Calif. - If racing fans are half as excited about Wednesday's start of a 28-day spring racing meeting at Bay Meadows as track president Jack Liebau, business will be booming.

The meet will include eight stakes, three with $100,000 purses, and could see a sprint rematch between Eclipse Award champion Lost in the Fog and Carthage in the Grade 3, $125,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint on June 4. Carthage defeated Lost in the Fog in the Golden Gate Fields Sprint on April 22, when Lost in the Fog made his 2006 debut.

"We think we're going to have a great meet," Liebau said.

Liebau's enthusiasm is based partly on his belief that attendance is stimulated by shorter meetings.

"One thing I think is true, without doubt, people don't go across the bay any more to see racing," Liebau said. "They're refreshed and want to see live racing again. We've been pleased with our attendance as a satellite."

Attendance may also be helped by the approach taken by the California Horse Racing Board's dates committee, which has tried to prevent overlapping dates and six-day weeks.

Although Bay Meadows will have one six-day week, which includes the May 29 Memorial Day holiday, the track will be dark the following Wednesday. When the San Joaquin County Fair meet opens the fair circuit at Stockton on June 14, Bay Meadows will be dark on Wednesday and Thursday.

The incessant rain of early spring has finally let up, and horses have been able to work regularly, most importantly many 2-year-olds. That, along with the early arrival of horses from Turf Paradise, could lead to fuller fields.

Rain and the decision of Golden Gate Fields not to run early two-furlong races prompted many trainers to keep their 2-year-olds in the barn during the Golden Gate meet. Some of those 2-year-olds will now be ready to run at Bay Meadows. Liebau and racing secretary Tom Doutrich say they plan to take advantage of this. The meet will offer the five-furlong Malcolm Anderson Stakes for 2-year-olds on closing weekend June 17.

In addition to having more 2-year-old racing, Liebau said, "Our turf course is ready to go." Liebau predicts good field size with a variety of turf races.

Five of the meet's eight stakes races will be on the turf, including the $100,000 California Turf Sprint Championship for Cal-breds at five furlongs and the $100,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.

At a glance

RACING SCHEDULE: 28 days; Wednesdays through June 18 (dark Mondays and Tuesdays, except May 29; dark May 31, June 14, June 15).

POST TIME: 1:05 p.m. Pacific, 7:20 p.m. Fridays.

HIGHLIGHTS:

* $100,000 California Turf Sprint Championship, May 20.

* $100,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Oaks, May 29.

* Grade 3, $125,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint, June 4.

ADMISSIONS: Grandstand, $3; clubhouse, $6; turf club, $10 Wednesday and Thursday, $15 Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.

PARKING: General, $4; valet, $7

LOCATION: 2600 S. Delaware St. San Mateo, CA

PHONE: (650) 574-7223

INTERNET: www.baymeadows.com