05/29/2003 11:00PM

Entries increase sharply


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Entries have risen dramatically as Bay Meadows enters the final two weeks of its spring meeting.

Bay Meadows officials cannot offer just one reason for the increase in entries but point to several possible explanations.

"Because the meet is going into the last few weeks, I think people want to run here so they don't have to ship into fair sites," racing secretary Greg Brent said. The fair season begins June 11 at Stockton.

Another possible factor is the weather. The area was hit with the most rain in April in 25 years, which limited training and use of the turf course. After the unseasonably wet weather ended in early May, more horses have been able to maintain an even work schedule.

Maybe the biggest reason entries have increased is because the turf course is being used more frequently. None of the fair tracks has a turf course.

"The turf, that's a real plus," Brent said. "People try to run here because it's the only place to run on the turf for the next two months."

Only 273 runners competed during the final week of April, for an average field size of 6.5 horses. Last week, including Monday's 10-race card, field size averaged 7.1 horses, with 7.7 horses entered per race. The average field size last weekend was 7.4 horses.

Field size this week (based on Thursday and Friday racing and Saturday's entries) has been 8.4. The trend continues into Sunday, when 74 horses were entered for the nine-race card.

Although the feature, a six-furlong allowance sprint, drew only five 3-year-old fillies, it should be an interesting race as Hippogator makes her second start along the comeback trail. She was third, tiring a bit late, when favored on May 2. Trish's Cajun, second in that May 2 race, is also entered.

BC Sprint tops coming weekend

Eleven horses were nominated for next Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Local speedsters Presidio Heights and El Dorado Shooter, who have won the past four sprint stakes in northern California while setting sizzling half-mile fractions, are among the nominees for the six-furlong race.

Also nominated are Captain Squire, winner of the Sunshine Millions Sprint and third in the Golden Shaheen in Dubai, Crafty C.T., Echo Eddie, Giovannetti, Golden Hare, Halo Cal, How Bout Jose, Radar Contact, and Taste of Paradise. Crafty C.T. was scheduled to run in Saturday's $75,000 Ack Ack Handicap at Hollywood.

* Chad Schvaneveldt was handed a three-day suspension, June 6-8, for his ride aboard Buster B Bimbo in Monday's fifth race. Buster B Bimbo won the 1 1/16-mile turf race for $6,250 claimers but was disqualified to seventh after lugging in and creating problems in the stretch. Schvaneveldt, seventh in the jockey standings with 20 victories from 139 mounts, would still be able to ride in the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint because it is a designated race.