11/03/2003 1:00AM

Doutrich doing things his way

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ALBANY, Calif. - Tom Doutrich's appointment as racing secretary for Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields in late August was unconventional, to say the least.

Doutrich, a 40-year-old former jockey agent who had never worked in a racing office before, completed his first meeting as racing secretary at Bay Meadows on Sunday, and will begin his first Golden Gate Fields meeting on Wednesday.

"I'd basically done it all," said Doutrich. "What I gave up was a very good livelihood for a new challenge."

He admits he's still in the honeymoon phase of the position, with plenty of support from all sides, but things seem to be working out well.

"He's done a great job for us," said F. Jack Liebau, the president of Magna's California operations, who hired Doutrich. "I'm more than pleased with the rapport he's developed with horsemen. He's bright and has an unbelievable amount of enthusiasm. Everyone has rallied behind him."

One of Doutrich's strengths is his communication with horsemen.

One example is the entry board that Doutrich has placed in the racing office. The board, which lists the number of horses entered in each race, speeds things up for office staff and horsemen when questions arise about the possible size of a field and the likelihood of a race being carded.

"I want to try to do little things to accommodate trainers and employees," said Doutrich

Doutrich has also expedited the daily entering process by closing off entries earlier and writing fewer extra races, and has shortened the length of the condition book from three weeks to two weeks in order to write races that better fit the current inventory of horses ready to run.

"We're on a little island," Doutrich says of Northern California racing. "We need everybody. We need all horses."

Doutrich has worked hard at strengthening weekend and holiday cards.

"The key is to have strong Saturdays and Sundays," he said. "That's when you sell horse racing to the fans."

For the upcoming meet, Doutrich will offer a new starter allowance program for $6,250 and $12,500 claimers.

The program is a return to conditions that were used a decade ago when a newly claimed horse was not eligible for a starter allowance condition at a lower level until the new owner ran the horse for the lower claiming tag.

"Beginning at Golden Gate Fields, you must establish your own eligibility," he said.

Also, when a horse wins at a higher claiming level, the horse will no longer be eligible for the lesser-level starter allowance. Horses will also add weight after victories at a starter allowance level.

"I think that will bring larger fields and make them more competitive," said Doutrich, who hopes this will create more action in the claiming ranks.

Doutrich said he spoke with 40 trainers about the decision "and only one disagreed."

Honeymoon? Maybe. Communication? Definitely. Result? To be determined, but Doutrich is willing to try things, and that could result in improved racing.

Ninebanks named meet's top horse

Ninebanks and Trapper won top honors for the 2003 Bay Meadows racing season, which ended Sunday.

Ninebanks was voted horse of the meeting, top older horse, and top turf horse. He won the Grade 2 San Francisco Breeders' Cup Handicap during the spring meeting and the California Turf Championship during the fall meet. The 6-year-old gelding, owned by Peter Abruzzo and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, also ran second in the Foster City and Pacifica handicaps and was third in the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap.

The 3-year-old Trapper, who moved up the claiming ranks after being claimed for $32,000 in his debut, capped his campaign by beating older horses in the California Sprint Championship Handicap. Owned by Joseph P. Morey Jr. and trained by William E. Morey, Trapper was voted the top 3-year-old and top claimer.

El Dorado Shooter was named top sprinter; Lindsay Jean, top older filly or mare; Frisco Belle, top 3-year-old filly; Market Report, top 2-year-old and 2-year-old colt; and Wildwood Flower, top 2-year-old filly.

The Miss America Handicap that Crazy Ensign won in a four-way photo April 5 was voted the race of the meeting.

Hollendorfer, who won his 27th straight Bay Meadows training title with 52 winners in the fall meeting, was named top trainer, and Russell Baze, who won his 30th Bay Meadows riding title with 96 victories, was named top jockey. Jose Luis Rivera Jr. was named the top apprentice.