05/12/2008 12:00AM

Baze Meadows era comes to a close


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Although two weeks of fair racing is scheduled there for Aug. 6-17, for most people, the Bay Meadows era ended Sunday with the final day of the spring meet.

Appropriately for jockey Russell Baze, who has won more races than any other rider at Bay Meadows - called Baze Meadows by some - what may have been his last ride at the track resulted in a victory, giving him 130 for the meeting and his 40th Bay Meadows riding championship.

Baze will be in England this summer during the Bay Meadows Fair, competing in an international jockey competition.

Redevelopment of the Bay Meadows racetrack property is scheduled to begin after the fair racing dates.

"I really wanted to go out with a win," said Baze after his 11-length victory aboard odds-on Hold the Advantage in the seventh race. "I'm sad to see this place close, but they've been talking about it closing for 20 years. Change is inevitable but not always for the better. I'll miss it."

Baze rode Hold the Advantage for trainer Steve Miyadi, who had three wins Sunday to finish the meet with 54 - only one behind Jerry Hollendorfer as Hollendorfer won his 37th straight Bay Meadows training title. Hollendorfer had clinched the title going into Sunday's card.

Hollendorfer, aware of the changes coming to the Northern California racing scene, has established himself with a solid Southern California-based stable in the past year, ranking in the top 10 at both the Hollywood Park fall meet and Santa Anita 2008 meet, where he won the Santa Anita Handicap with Heatseeker.

There were week-long eulogies about the track, which opened in 1934, in Bay Area newspapers, and television stations flocked to the track for closing-week stories.

The publicity paid off for Bay Meadows, which attracted 14,366 to its final Friday night of racing. The attendance was the largest on-track since 15,425 attended on Labor Day 1992. Sunday's attendance was 8,203.

She's Sensational skips Mother's Day Handicap

Trainer John Martin nominated his improving 4-year-old filly She's Sensational to Sunday's closing day Mother's Day Handicap, but passed the race.

"It's too tough a spot and too much to ask," he said Thursday.

She's Sensational made four starts at the Bay Meadows meet, running second in a maiden race, then winning three straight. Martin figured a little rest would do his filly more good than a tough race that included five stakes winners in the field.

Wild Promises notched her first stakes victory in the Mother's Day, improving her record to 6-5-1 from 12 starts. She avenged a loss to Unspoken Word in the Hillsborough Handicap and denied Baze a final Bay Meadows stakes victory.

Baze did win Saturday's feature, the $63,720 final leg of the Triple Play Series, a three-race series for $10,000 claimers. Bonk, the winner, was claimed in an eight-way shake by trainer Steve Sherman for Bob Bone in the first leg. He earned $33,000 for Saturday's victory.

"I told Russell we needed to win this one because next time he'll probably be running for $10,000 again," Sherman said, joking.

Golden Gate's two-stakes weekend

Golden Gate Fields will host stakes races on Saturday and Sunday as its short meet gets into full swing.

Ten 3-year-olds were nominated to Saturday's $50,000 Golden Bear at six furlongs.

Twelve 3-year-old fillies were nominated to Sunday's $75,000 Golden Poppy at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Salute the Sarge, winner of the Grade 2 Best Pal and Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship last year and the San Miguel this year, heads the nominations to the Golden Bear. Other stakes winners include Nevada Worrier and Whatever Whenever, who both won the Cavonnier Stakes last year. Nevada Warrior won Santa Anita's version, while Whatever Whenever won at Santa Rosa.

Also nominated were the stakes-placed Pleasure Grounds, the undefeated Classielyte, and Summer Haze, who has won two straight since finishing second in his debut.

Bitterbutsweet, who has won two straight turf stakes in Arizona, and the stakes winner Bel Air Sizzle are the leading nominees in the filly race.