01/24/2012 12:26PM

Golden Gate Fields: Albany coming up strong

William Vassar/Vassar Photography
Sourdough Sam pulls away from the gray Shudacudawudya in the Oakland last fall. The two meet again Saturday in the Albany.

Golden Gate Fields interim general manager Joe Morris and new racing secretary David Jerkens said before the current meet started that they hoped to add stakes races to the calendar.

Saturday’s $50,000 Albany Stakes is a their first addition to the stakes calendar, and the six-furlong Tapeta race should be a tremendous affair. The Albany matches longtime rivals Sourdough Sam and Shudacudawudya, who ran one-two in last October’s Oakland Stakes, Golden Gate’s only sprint stakes for older runners in 2011.

Shudacudawudya’s stablemate Soldiers Point will make his stakes debut in the Albany. Gig Harbor will make his first start since winning the 1 1/16-mile Alcatraz on the turf last May 14. He can sprint, too, as he showed running third in the six-furlong Harry Henson on the turf last April at Hollywood Park. Live Sundays, third in the Oakland as well as second in a pair of fair route stakes, also is expected to enter.

As of early in the week, trainer Jeff Bonde hadn’t made a decision about whether to run Sway Away, who has been working brilliantly down south while looking for a spot to make his first start since an allowance victory at Hollywood Park last June 19. He was second in a pair of Grade 2 races as a 2-year-old and 3-year-old and ran fourth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.

Trainer Keith Nations had planned to run the 7-year-old Hexbreaker in the Albany, but said Monday that he and owner Edward DeNike decided Hexbreaker needed a bit more time. In his last start he won a $50,000 optional claimer on Jan. 7.

Though disappointed the timing of the race didn’t work in his favor, Nations reflected the general feeling of horsemen at Golden Gate when he said that he appreciated the track adding a stakes.

“It’s why we’re in this game: to try to get good horses,” Nations said.