09/22/2008 12:00AM

Dollar days plus NFL jump-start new meet


ALBANY, Calif. - Business-wise and artistically, Week 1 at Golden Gate Fields was a success.

After a summer that turned into a grind for the racing office at each stop along the fair circuit, field size during the first week at Golden Gate Fields averaged nine horses per race.

The first one-dollar Sunday - with every NFL game televised at the track - attracted 3,652 fans, a figure that Golden Gate Fields officials believe will grow as more people discover the special program. Admission, parking, programs, hot dogs, sodas, and beer are each $1, plus every NFL game is available for viewing.

Meanwhile, Wild Promises again showed she is a special runner, winning the Miss America Stakes with relative ease Saturday even though the margin of victory over 21-1 longshot In My Glory was only a half-length.

"She has nine wins, five seconds, and a third" in 14 starts, said trainer Greg Gilchrist. "Horses like this don't come along every day."

Gilchrist joked that "a 4-H kid" could train Wild Promises, a 4-year-old filly by Wild Event.

"The key with her is to give her plenty of time between starts," he said. "She'll probably have to travel for her next race because we want to keep her on the turf. There really isn't anything around here, but I honestly haven't started looking at races for her yet."

Indyanne, Gilchrist's other star filly, has two works since suffering the first loss of her five-race career in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Saratoga on Aug. 23. She worked a half-mile in 47.40 seconds on Sept. 11, the third-best work of 40. Last Thursday, she had a best-of-29 bullet, covering the same distance in 46.60 seconds.

Gilchrist says he hasn't decided yet where to run her next, but said he might stretch her out.

At the end of the first week, Russell Baze was in his usual spot atop the jockey standings with 10 victories, but William Antongeorgi III began the meet with three winners for trainers Jerry Hollendorfer, Lloyd Mason, and Gilchrist on opening day Wednesday.

On Thursday, Frank Alvarado, second in the rider standings with six winners, got his 2,000th victory.

Mixed reaction to new claiming rule

The new California Horse Racing Board rule that will allow trainers to run claiming horses that have been off at least six months to compete at the same claiming level as their last race without being eligible to be claimed received a mixed reaction from Golden Gate Fields trainers.

"I personally love the rule," said Gil Matos. "I think it is a small step forward to help horses and those who pay the bills. I don't like other people making rules for me, but we have to start thinking of the owners. This is a good rule for somebody willing to do the right thing by giving a horse time off."

Gilchrist said, "I understand the intent, but we're trying to re-invent racing."

Billy Morey said he was willing to give the rule a "chance to see how it works."

"I think the idea is good," Morey said. "It might encourage owners to put horses out and bring them back when they might not have if you give them one free shot."

Gloria Buckridge agreed: "If you've given a horse a year, it gives a person a shot to bring the horse back and keep it. I think it's a good rule."

Andy Mathis said, "I don't know if that's a problem. If a horse has been gone a year, someone would have to be brave enough to claim it. It's not really necessary. They tried to put in a rule where you can't drop a horse more than a certain percentage. If you want to take a chance, it's your money. What's the next rule going to be?"

Steve Sherman said he was not in favor of the rule, and lamented, "There are too many rules. And what about the bettors? If a guy doesn't put a horse in at the same level, does he like his horse? If you had a $16,000 horse that you thought would be claimed, run him for $25,000 or $32,000."

Or, as Mathis said, "If you don't want to lose the horse, protect by entering it where it won't be claimed."

Aggie Ordonez says she can see both sides, but comes down leaning toward the rule.

"You always hope to do the right thing," she said. "Maybe this gives the owner a shot. You hate to put that time in and not reap the reward. As to moving a horse up to where he wouldn't be claimed, how many battles do you want to fight? Coming back and facing the same level is hard enough. Give the horse a break. If he's way overmatched in his comeback, it could affect his confidence."

All American field takes shape

Through Sunday, three horses were confirmed as running in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 All American Handicap at 1 1/8 miles.

Delightful Kiss, already qualified for the new Breeders' Cup Marathon at 1 1/2 miles on the main track with his victory in the Sept. 6 Turfway Fall Championship, will use the race as his final Breeders' Cup prep.

Two Hollendorfer entrants will also compete: Saratoga's Magic, winner of the Governor's Handicap in his last start and a winner earlier this summer of the Alamedan at Pleasanton; and Our Partner, second in the Governor's Handicap, the Grace Handicap at Santa Rosa, and the Bay Meadows Handicap this year.

Hollendorfer will not run Hystericalady, whom he had nominated.

Asperity, Lang Field, Niagara Causeway, Now Now Now, Victorian Prince, and Zappa are considered possibles.

* Golden Gate stewards have scheduled an Oct. 31 hearing for trainer Sean McLaughlin, whose Dab of Lightning - who finished first in the ninth race July 20 at Solan - tested positive for 3-hydroxy lidocaine, a local anesthetic. It is a Class 2 violation.