Updated on 09/17/2011 9:48AM

Construction resumes on hospital


ALBANY, Calif. - The long-awaited equine hospital at Golden Gate Fields is finally taking shape.

The foundation for the hospital has been in place since before the current meeting opened in November, but there had been no further progress until last week.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the frame was erected, and the back wall was added on Thursday, when Magna vice president Peter Tunney appeared before the California Horse Racing Board to discuss the hospital's progress.

Tunney told the board that the hospital should be open within a month.

Tunney said the frame had not been put in place sooner because of bad weather and because the loud noise of riveting the frame in place was disruptive to the horses.

He said the frame was erected last week after the track was closed to morning workouts. Portable lights allowed the crew to continue work into the late afternoon.

"Once the outside of the building is completed, the inside work can been done every day," Tunney said.

Local veterinarians have in storage equipment, such as X-ray machines, that was used at Bay Meadows before the equine hospital there was taken down.

Long-awaited win

Trainer Sandy Comontofski lit up the Golden Gate Fields tote board last Friday when Plenty of Time closed wide from last to score a $108 upset in a $3,200 claiming race at one mile. Plenty of Time had been beaten by double-digit margins in four of his past five starts.

The 7-year-old gelding, owned by Comontofski and her husband, Randy, won for the first time since Sept. 23, 2001.

That was also Comontofski's last training victory with a Thoroughbred. Last summer she won with mules on the California fair circuit.

Jockey Pedro Mercado followed instructions perfectly on Friday, Comontofski said.

"I told Pedro he wanted to be wide and in the clear," Comontofski said. "That's what [retired rider] Agapito Delgadillo discovered winning those races when he rode him."

Plenty of Time was last early and moved four wide around the turn. He took the lead into the lane and was never challenged as favored Vino Rossi close well for second.

Mercado, who had only two wins in 2002, already has three wins from 24 mounts this month - Anna Capri ($60.60), Smoke Till Dawn ($76.20), and Plenty of Time.

Red Packet eyes No. 6

Red Packet, seeking his sixth straight win, heads a field of 10 in Wednesday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a $20,000 claimer at one mile.

Red Packet has not lost since he was gelded last summer. His last two wins came for a $20,000 claiming tag, and he has never finished worse than second in two-turn races.

Red Packet likely will stalk the pace of Ima Mile High Guy.

Injury list

Trainer Brian Koriner, who was concerned with the way Denali Cat came back after winning the Miss California Stakes on Jan. 18, said the 3-year-old filly is fine and will be pointed to the $100,000-added Boo La Boo Stakes, a six-furlong race for Cal-bred 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita on Feb. 15.

Trainer Jeff Bonde had to scratch Erica's Smile from Saturday's Vessels Stallion Farm Distaff at Santa Anita because of a bruised left front foot. He said she would be pointed to the Grade 3, $125,000 Las Flores Handicap, a six-furlong stakes for older fillies and mares at Santa Anita on Feb. 22.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said that U S S Tinosa will skip the Strub Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday.

U S S Tinosa has been turned out because of a nagging shoulder injury.

* Lindsay Jean is the top local mare likely to run in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Brown Bess Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Crazy Ensign from the Richard Mandella barn and L'Emeraude, trained by Bobby Frankel, are also scheduled to run in the race.

* The Thoroughbred Owners of California will host a seminar for new owners Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Golden Gate Fields stable area. Contact Jim Ghidella at (510) 559-7521 for information or to reserve a spot.