08/15/2006 12:00AM

Berkeley tops Golden Gate meet


The Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap is one of nine stakes that will be run during the fall meeting at Golden Gate Fields, which begins Aug. 25.

The track, which came under fire from horsemen during the spring when it cut overnight stakes purses from $50,000 to $40,000, has reinstituted $50,000 purses for overnight stakes. The nine stakes are worth a combined $625,000.

"We talked with trainers and worked closely with the Thoroughbred Owners of California and decided $50,000 was right for stakes in California," said Golden Gate general manager Robert Hartman.

Five of the nine scheduled stakes have a purse of $50,000. The 1 1/16-mile Berkeley, which is run on Labor Day, carries a $150,000 purse.

"Labor Day will be the biggest day of the meeting," Hartman said.

The meet?s other three stakes are for Cal-breds, and each offers a $75,000 purse. Only one open 2-year-old stakes is scheduled, the $50,000 Alameda Sept. 9.

"We are creating a solid stakes schedule," Harman said. "That is something Golden Gate Fields is committed to. We feel it brings out more fans to racing."