02/07/2007 12:00AM

El Camino and sprint paired on big weekend


SAN MATEO, Calif. - A big weekend featuring northern California's top 3-year-old stakes and top sprint race heads the schedule for the Bay Meadows spring meet, which opens Feb. 14.

Nine stakes worth $750,000 will be contested during the 10-week meet.

The Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby, traditionally an important steppingstone on the Triple Crown trail, will be held Saturday, March 10. The 1 1/16-mile race carries a $200,000 purse.

On March 11, the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint, a six-furlong, $100,000 race, will be run.

"The El Camino has always been a tough race," racing secretary Tom Doutrich said. "We usually don't get horses from the East and Midwest, but, with the timing and graded status, we should again get some of California's top 3-year-olds."

Bwana Bull, winner of the California Derby, is a likely entrant in the El Camino.

"The timing works well with the Sprint, which is probably better when run in the spring," Doutrich said. "This race has good timing for the Los Angeles Handicap and will probably get some Southern California sprinters who prefer six furlongs instead of seven or six and a half, which are carded at Santa Anita in that time frame."

Smokey Stover, winner of the Sunshine Millions Sprint, is a candidate for the Bay Meadows race.

Two other $100,000 races are scheduled: the California Turf Sprint at five furlongs for Cal-breds on March 3, and the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Oaks at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-old fillies on April 14.

Bay Meadows is scaling back purses on the overnight stakes from $55,000 added to $50,000 added, bringing them in line with Golden Gate Fields's purse structure.