04/03/2012 12:25PM

Golden Gate Fields: Antares World gets back on home turf

Vassar Photography
Antares World will return to the Golden Gate turf course in an open allowance race Friday.

Golden Gate Fields opens its turf course this week and also will run its first 2-year-old race of the season as it returns to its normal eight-race weekday cards. The track was forced to go with seven weekday races the past two weeks because of the low number of horses available.

Three turf races are scheduled Thursday, with three more Friday. The 2-year-old season begins with a two-furlong race Friday that drew five fillies and four males.

The week’s best race comes in Friday’s first race, a turf race at one mile comprising multiple stakes winners Antares World and Halo Dolly and three others. It’s an open allowance race that is a stakes race by any other name.

The race comes at a good time for Antares World, trainer Steve Specht said. The 5-year-old Decarchy mare won the last open allowance race here for older females, beating four rivals, including Bleach Blonde, who also is entered Thursday.

The win came on the Tapeta main track, but Antares World is probably better on the turf. She has three wins and a pair of seconds in her five starts over Golden Gate’s turf course.

Specht said he has no big goal planned for Antares World and wanted to find a race for her at home.

“I was going to run her in an overnight stake at Santa Anita, but I was happy they got this one to go,” he said. “It’s tough vanning down to Southern California. It takes something out of a horse. I’d much rather stay home.”

Golden Gate Fields is in the middle of a 10-week stakes-less stretch. Its last stakes race was the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 18. The next stakes is the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile on April 28. There are no stakes races in Northern California for older females until the fair circuit starts.

Courtown Harbour runs with tag

Bettors will have to figure out what to do in Thursday’s first race with Courtown Harbour, who is dropping from an allowance race into a $12,500 conditioned claimer at a mile on the Tapeta.

Courtown Harbour, a 4-year-old Ann Marie Farm homebred, has never run for a tag. He graduated against maiden special weights here in January in his eighth start and in his only start since then finished last in a 1 1/16-mile allowance here Feb. 4.

Trainer Lloyd Mason said he is dropping Courtown Harbour in hopes that “maybe he’ll get some confidence back.”

“The horse hasn’t run as well as we hoped,” Mason said.

Mason said that in addition to placing the gelding where he could win, the drop to $12,500 makes Courtown Harbour eligible for starter allowance races.

Of course, the $12,500 price might prove a good deal for a rival trainer, but that is the risk Mason is taking.

Gimme Datt tough to figure

The going doesn’t get much easier in the second half of the daily double Thursday, with bettors having to evaluate how Gimme Datt’s Canadian form will translate to Golden Gate. The 3-year-old Gimme Datt runs in a $12,500 conditioned claimer at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Gimme Datt will be making the second start of his career, and he hasn’t run since last August, when he won a 3 1/2-furlong maiden claimer by 12 lengths as the even-money favorite. Gimme Dat earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 62.

“Obviously, he ran well,” said trainer Greg Tracy, who admits it’s hard to judge the competition the gelding ran against. “It was in Edmonton and a little late in the year.”

Gimme Datt has had to overcome “a few issues” during his layoff, Tracy said.

“He’s been working all right,” he said. “It looks like he’s back.”

Gimme Datt was scratched once earlier this meet.

Tracy, who races much of the year in Canada, came to Golden Gate Fields this year because he felt the competition was a good fit for his runners, who will be racing at Hastings Park in British Columbia later this year.

◗ Plenty of activities are planned for the Easter Sunday at Golden Gate Fields. In addition to $1 parking, admission, programs, hot dogs, and beer, an Easter egg hunt will be held in the winner’s circle at 11:30 a.m. There also will be a number of family friendly activities from noon until 4 p.m.

There will be a special Easter brunch in the Turf Club. Tickets are $45 for adults and $20 for children, with reservations available by calling (510) 559-7390.