05/17/2010 12:00AM

Golden Gate giving five-day weeks a shot


ALBANY, Calif. - Golden Gate Fields is embarking on a five-day racing week beginning Wednesday, and the track's general manager, Robert Hartman, says that plans are to continue with five-day weeks until the conclusion of the meet on June 13.

Northern California's reduced horse population prompted the track to run four-day weeks during the winter months, and, when Hollywood Park opted to begin its meet with four-day weeks, Golden Gate followed suit.

Hartman believes Golden Gate will be able to fill its races despite adding an extra day of racing each week.

"It's still going to be a struggle," he said, explaining that the track would try to card more 2-year-old races and turf races.

Golden Gate Fields is running only seven races on Wednesday and Thursday this week before an eight-race card on Friday. Nine-race cards are planned for weekend days.

"We had to ask approval from the California Horse Racing Board," he said of the seven-race cards. "We believe that still gives our fans a full day of entertainment with simulcast races from Southern California and out of state."

Permission was requested because tracks are supposed to run eight live races in order to have out-of-state simulcasting.

Hartman said he is glad to go to the five-day weeks because so many Golden Gate Fields employees have been hurt financially by working only four days.

With no further turf stakes scheduled, the course will be used to its fullest during the final month of the meet. Turf races tend to fill easier and attract more entrants than races on the main track.

"This will be the last chance before Santa Rosa comes along to run on the turf," Hartman said.

He is also hopeful that some horsemen will try to squeeze in an additional start on the Tapeta surface before the fair season begins.

Garcia has big fans

Northern California trainers were pleased by Martin Garcia's victory aboard Lookin At Lucky in the Preakness.

Steve Miyadi, who gave Garcia 150 mounts that resulted in 58 victories during his apprentice year in Northern California, said he watched the race at home.

"The thing I learned from [Southern California trainer] Mike Mitchell is you don't root," Miyadi said. "But turning for home, I starting riding him.

"My 6-year-old daughter thought it was my horse. She'd never seen me like that."

Miyadi said that Garcia showed the same qualities early in his career that he showed in winning the Preakness.

"A, he was fearless. B, he could follow instructions and C, he could finish," said Miyadi.

"I was shaking my head thinking he could be up here riding $4,000 claiming horses," said John Martin, who was one of the first to jump on the Garcia bandwagon. "I'm glad to see he went down there."

Although he put him on only 33 horses, Martin was rewarded with 12 victories.

"For the minimal amount of time he had riding, he learned fast and was doing things experienced riders did. He was really aggressive and really got a lot out of horses."

Steve Sherman also won a high percentage of the races in which he used Garcia when running the stable of his father, Art Sherman. Garcia continues to enjoy success with Art Sherman down south. All told, Garcia has won with 26 of 79 mounts for the Shermans in Northern and Southern California.

"He was still learning up here, but he always had the horse in the right position to win. He wasn't one of those speed-crazy types."

Billy Morey, for whom Garcia won with 6 of 20 mounts, said he "couldn't be happier for him."

"I think he got a ton of experience in a couple of meets when he got in a tussle with Russell [Baze]," said Morey.

Garcia shared riding honors with Baze at the 2005-06 Bay Meadows holiday meet and then became the only jockey to beat Baze at a meet in Northern California at the ensuing Golden Gate Fields meet.

Garcia will guest on Sam Spear's "At the Track" radio show Sunday at 7 a.m. on KNBR-680.

Looking south

Morey said Saturday's Alcatraz Stakes winner, Hudson Landing, will get a short breather after winning three races in six weeks. Morey is looking at a pair of races at Hollywood Park in five weeks: the Grade 3 Affirmed on the main track and the Grade 3 Will Rogers on the turf. Both are $100,000 races at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds.

Morey said the break would be perfect for Hudson Landing, a 3-year-old Maria's Mon colt, who has won all three starts since being purchased by Gene Guelfo, Franklin Lindstrom, and Roger and Cindy Newman.

Bloodstock agent Don Brower helped Morey find the colt.

Hudson Landing, who was 0 for 7 at Saratoga, Belmont, Aqueduct, and Gulfstream Park, graduated on the main track in his first start for Morey and then won his first allowance condition on the turf.

He sat back early in the Alcatraz and proved best in the stretch, defeating Dream Nettie, who had just won the $100,000 La Puente on the turf at Santa Anita, by three-quarters of a length.

Morey said he would likely nominate to both Hollywood Park races but is leaning right now to remaining on the turf.

Big weekends

What else is new? Baze rode five winners, including Hudson Landing, on Saturday and came back with three more Sunday to increase his lead in the jockey race to 63.

Baze has 143 winners at the meet, but Frank Alvarado and Michael Martinez are in a real battle for runner-up honors. Both riders have 80 winners.

Martin had a perfect weekend, going 2 for 2 on Saturday Pleasant Prospect and Richly Red and 2 for 2 again on Sunday with Maroon and Maeve.

Morey had three wins Saturday. with Lamm and California Soldier also reaching the winner's circle, and Sherman also had three wins with Crocodile, Colorful Dreamer, and Googles McCoy.