08/15/2012 2:21PM

Golden Gate 17-day summer meeting opens Friday

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Golden Gate Fields general manager Joe Morris is only half joking when he refers to the 17-day race meeting that begins Friday as, “Our weekend meet.”

Race weeks will comprise three days, Friday through Sunday, with special programs on Labor Day Monday, Sept. 3, and Wednesday, Sept. 5, which is the closing day of the Del Mar meeting.

The Golden Gate Fields summer meet bridges the Northern California fair season, with racing still to come at Stockton and Fresno.

Like last year, the short meet will offer no stakes races, something Morris hopes to change.

“Next year, I hope we can add a couple stakes,” he said.

The short summer meeting allows Golden Gate Fields to generate purse money for its two-month fall meet and six-month winter-spring meet.

Morris is pleased with one change over last year’s summer mini-meet.

“We’ve raised purses 3 percent over last year,” he said.

“This is my first meet like this,” said Morris, who took over as the Golden Gate Fields interim general manager last fall. “Last year, I caught a few days of the meet.”

Morris said Golden Gate Fields will offer special promotions virtually every day of the meeting.

The first three Fridays, Aug. 17, 24, 31, offer what the track is calling Happy Hour cards with a 3:45 p.m. post time. Half-price admission, food and drink specials, and live music will be featured.

The first three Saturdays, Aug. 18, 25, Sept. 1, are Family Fun Days with a variety of free activities for children, including a zip line, rock-climbing wall, obstacle course, and bounce houses.

The popular Dollar Day Sundays continue with a concert series featuring Tainted Love (Aug. 19), The Department of Rock (Aug. 26), Love Fool (Sept. 2), a Filipino music festival (Sept. 9), and The Cheeseballs (Sept. 16) as well as telecasts of all NFL games.

Labor Day features a baseball cap giveaway and the popular Wiener Nationals dog racing.

Golden Gate Fields is also offering Photo Days on Aug. 18, Sept. 1 and 15, with registered participants given an all-access credential allowing them to photograph morning workouts, horses in the barn area and paddock, as well as the races themselves.

On closing day, Sept. 16, a Horses and Horsepower Day will include a car show featuring more than 100 vehicles.

While Morris is trying to generate interest and attendance with the special events, his primary focus remains on racing.

“We want to get Golden Gate Fields back on the credibility scale for horse racing,” he said.