12/15/2008 1:00AM

Gold Rush giving preview of stakes to come


ALBANY, Calif. - Golden Gate Fields winds up its fall meeting this week with the $75,000 Gold Rush Stakes on Saturday.

The one-mile stakes for 2-year-olds is a perfect send-off for the fall meet and will serve as a stepping-stone to the $100,000 California Derby at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 17 and the Grade 3, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 14.

Six runners are confirmed for the race, and four others are considering it.

Skimasco ran second behind wire-to-wire winner Frumious in his first try at one mile on Nov. 13. He won a pair of sprints to start his career. Run It, who never won a maiden race, has captured two straight $40,000 starter allowance races at one mile. They both look solid going into the Gold Rush.

Clare's Top Choice won the Cavonnier Juvenile at Santa Rosa for his maiden - and thus far only - victory. He was eighth and never a factor after drifting out on the first turn at the Barretts Juvenile at Fairplex in his last start Sept. 14. Stablemate AK Racer won his debut but has lost twice since, including his last start at six furlongs on Oct. 23.

Adriatic Moon, a stablemate of Skimasco, comes off a straight maiden victory at one mile on Nov. 21.

Blazing Dan will be making his first start since graduating for a $25,000 claiming price at Sacramento on Aug. 21.

Also being considered is Backbackbackgone, winner of sprint stakes at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita, as well as Billionaire Bob, Free Action, and Merus Miami.

Some top talent missing

Some of the best 2-year-olds who raced here this year will not be competing, however.

Maidens Justice was still a maiden, having run second in his first two career starts, when he won the Lost in the Fog Stakes here last June. A Lit de Justice colt, he turned in an impressive performance but suffered a puncture wound that affected a tendon. He has not raced since.

"It turned out to be a lot worse than we anticipated," trainer Gil Matos said. "He's always been at the barn, but it kept flaring up. He lost all his training, so I just gave him extra time."

Maidens Justice has just begun galloping again and has yet to record a work, but Matos hopes he will return to action next spring.

Frumious finished third in the Solano County Juvenile but has won all three starts since, including a wire-to-wire allowance mile win here on Nov. 13. A California-bred son of Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone, he will run in Saturday's CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park.

Babs Moossa, who parlayed a bottom-level maiden $12,500 claiming victory into three straight stakes wins, starting with the Solano County Juvenile, has been stabled down south for leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer since winning the Graduation Stakes and the Im Smokin at Del Mar.

Final week starts with $17K carryover

The final week of Golden Gate racing begins Wednesday with an enticing $17,237 pick-six carryover.

The pick six starts with a 2-year-old maiden race that includes Hornung, a troubled third in his debut here on Nov. 22, and a pair of well-bred first-time starters in Forestry Bull and Sovereign Road.

It doesn't get any easier after that, with a series of competitive races filling out the sequence, including a $25,000 claimer at a mile on the turf that could be switched to the main track. It rained Sunday, and more is expected early in the week.

Will O Way's victory no surprise

Will O Way's $2.80 victory in the Corte Madera was accomplished about as expected, with the 2-year-old Broken Vow filly pulling away under Russell Baze in the lane to win by 5 1/2 lengths as she won the one-mile race in 1:37.90 over comebacker Cherokee Echo.

Winning trainer Vladimir Cerin said the smallish filly is "the real deal," and that he would likely point her to the $300,000 Grade 1 Las Virgenes at her home track at Santa Anita.

Will O Way ran third to Stardom Bound in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante and was sixth in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes.

Alvarado bounces back from spill

Jockey Frank Alvarado, who suffered a mild concussion, neck sprain, and lower back sprain Saturday when his mount in the third race, Karaoke Jeannie, broke a leg and was subsequently euthanized, returned to the races Sunday, finishing second aboard Magnificent Blend in the first race and fourth aboard Alashir's Storm in the third before taking off his final four mounts because of soreness.

Jockey Roberto Gonzalez, also injured in Saturday's spill when his mount tripped over the fallen Karaoke Jeannie, took one race off and then rode the remainder of his Saturday mounts. He also won Sunday's feature, pulling off a $15.60 upset in an allowance sprint.

Palmer remembered

Veteran racing official Charlie Palmer, who died Dec. 7 at age 80, was in racing for more than 60 years and was a fixture on the fair circuit.

"Charlie helped a lot of racing officials get started and was just a great guy to work for," said California steward Grant Baker, who worked for Palmer many years on the summer fair circuit. "He always put the people that worked for him first."