06/18/2007 11:00PM

Golden Gate may also get synthetic surface waiver


In an effort to avoid a widespread disruption of racing dates on the Northern California circuit, the California Horse Racing Board said on Tuesday it may allow both Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields to race in 2008 without synthetic surfaces.

The board had mandated that all Thoroughbred tracks in the state that run more than four weeks of racing have a synthetic surface installed by 2008, but Golden Gate's general manager, Robert Hartman, said the track is running out of time. Golden Gate Fields intends to install a Tapeta Footings surface this summer, but has yet to receive the needed permit from the Albany, Calif., planning department and faces opposition from local environmental groups.

Golden Gate Fields must begin installation by Aug. 1 to complete the job before the track's fall meeting, which begins Nov. 7, according to Hartman.

"We have a shot this year" to install the track, he said. "We need everything to go our way."

The racing board was considering granting Bay Meadows a one-year waiver on installing a synthetic surface at Tuesday's meeting, which was at Hollywood Park, but was advised not to do so by deputy attorney general Derry Knight because the language in the agenda for the meeting did not specifically allow the board to grant a one-year waiver to either track.

"The board is inclined, in light of the circumstances, to allow a one-year waiver," the board's chairman, Richard Shapiro, said of Bay Meadows and Golden Gate.

Earlier this year, the board denied a request by Bay Meadows for a two-year waiver - for 2008 and 2009. As a result, Bay Meadows officials said they would close the track at the end of 2007, but later softened that stance and said they would race in 2008 if they were granted a one-year waiver.

The next board meeting will be at Del Mar on July 19. Dates for 2008 are likely to be awarded in August or September.