08/14/2013 1:56PM

Golden Gate Fields opens 19-day summer meeting


Golden Gate Fields opens its 19-day summer meeting on Friday, and for the first time in three years, the meet will include a stakes.

The $50,000-added Rolling Green Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up, will be run on Labor Day.

“We have a little more positive momentum,” racing secretary David Jerkens said. “We were able to add a stakes race, and that’s a positive moving forward.”

The short summer meet has faced financial issues since picking up the dates in 2009 from Bay Meadows, which had run a San Mateo County Fair meet until shutting down in 2008.

In addition to eliminating stakes in 2011, Golden Gate had to cut purses last year. The track has maintained that lowered purse schedule this year while adding the stakes.

“This is a difficult time frame,” Jerkens said. “It’s challenging because many of our stakes horses are at Del Mar.”

An influx of horses from Emerald Downs will not be felt until the fall meet starts in October, but some local 2-year-olds are ready to race, and the turf course also offers opportunities to fill races.

Some of the lower-level claimers, though, make the trek to Ferndale, whose county fair meet runs concurrently with Golden Gate Fields.

The Golden Gate Fields summer meet runs mostly on a Thursday-through-Sunday schedule, with special racing on Labor Day and Wednesday, Sept. 4. The track will be dark on Thursdays, Sept. 5 and 12.

Post time will be 1:15 p.m. Pacific, except on the three remaining Fridays in August, which will have a first post of 3:45 p.m. to tie in with Del Mar’s 4 p.m. Friday starts.

Golden Gate will offer “happy hour” food and drink specials on Fridays through the first four races from 3:45-5:45 p.m. All bottled beers are $3.50, Sauza margaritas and Bulleit bourbon drinks are $5, and jumbo hot dogs, fountain sodas, and regular nachos are $2.

The popular Dollar Day Sundays – with $1 parking, admission, programs, hot dogs, beers, and sodas – continue along with special concerts. And Labor Day also will be a Dollar Day.

Racing Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze and Hall of Famer trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will be trying to continue their Golden Gate Fields dominance.

Baze could be challenged by the hot Juan Hernandez, who edged him 17-16 in the jockeys race at Santa Rosa while winning four of the meet’s six stakes. Baze won the other two stakes races there.