04/23/2007 12:00AM

Final meet on dirt main track begins


ALBANY, Calif. - Golden Gate Fields begins its final meeting on the dirt track Wednesday when it opens a 36-day spring meet that includes 12 stakes worth $1,150,00.

A day after the meet ends on Juneo10, horses stabled at Golden Gate will be transported to Bay Meadows, Pleasanton, and Vallejo, and the synthetic Tapeta surface will be installed.

Golden Gate Fields is completing the construction permit process with the city of Albany, said Robert Hartman, the track's general manager.

"Everything is on schedule to start when the meet ends June 10," Hartman said. "All the plans are done."

The surface material has been purchased and the mixing of it will begin in late May. Installation of the new surface should be completed around Labor Day, Hartman said, and then horses would begin training at Golden Gate for the fall meet, which begins Nov. 7.

The spring meet gets off to a big start Saturday with the track's signature race, the $300,000 San Francisco Mile. The race is Northern California's only Grade 2. Seventeen horses were nominated for the one-mile turf race.

There also will be several allowance races on Saturday, and purses for the day will be raised 25 percent.

Racing secretary Sean Greely said he plans to take advantage of the turf course, which was not used during the winter meeting so that it would be fully ready for this spring meeting.

In addition to the San Francisco Mile, a pair of Grade 3 races will be offered during the meet: the $200,000 Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on the turf on May 28, and the $100,000 Berkeley Handicap at 1o1/16 miles on June 2.

There were 55 entrants on Wednesday's eight-race card.

The day's feature, a 1 1/16-mile allowance race on the turf for 3-year-old fillies, drew six runners, including four who won their previous start. It marks the turf debut of Lemon Kiss, a maiden winner at Bay Meadows two back who was eliminated while running against better at Santa Anita last out when she stumbled coming out of the gate.

The track will offer several promotions during the meet, including $1 admission, parking, programs, hot dogs, beer, and soda on Sundays.