10/18/2010 11:03AM

Golden Gate targets the juvenile set


With an emphasis on 2-year-olds, the best of which are being pointed to track owner MI Developments’s bonus programs for 3-year-olds next year, one might expect Golden Gate Fields to come up with a clever title for the 45-day meet that opens Wednesday.

The Meet of Great Expectations? The Meet of Future Stars?

“We’re just calling it the 2010 fall meeting,” said Golden Gate Fields general manager Robert Hartman.

Even without a fancy moniker, Hartman says, “It should be a great meet.”

Purses for the meet, which ends Dec. 19, have been raised from 10 to 15 percent depending on the category compared to the brief summer meet in August and September.

Two-year-olds will definitely be in the spotlight during the meet, with two stakes for juvenile fillies and two open juvenile stakes. When the best of these juveniles turn 3, they will be pointed for the California Oaks on New Year’s Day and the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 12. The El Camino Real is part of the MI Developments Preakness 5.5, which awards bonuses totaling $5.5 million to a Preakness winner who also wins a series of earlier stakes at MID tracks. The California Oaks is part of the filly counterpart, the Black-Eyed Susan 2.2, which awards bonuses totaling $2.2 million to a qualifying Black-Eyed Susan winner.

“We’re going to have a strong program for 2-year-olds and will be trying to card a number of maiden allowance races to help trainers prepare their horses for the bonus programs,” said Hartman.

Four of the seven stakes at the fall meeting are for 2-year-olds. The $50,000 Golden Gate Debutante will be run at six furlongs for fillies on Nov. 6, with the $50,000 Golden Nugget for colts on Nov. 13. The final California Oaks prep is set for Dec. 4 with the $75,000 Corte Madera at one mile for fillies. The one-mile $75,000 Gold Rush for colts is scheduled for Dec. 11.

The Grade 3, $100,000 All American at 1 1/8 miles for older runners will be held Nov. 26.

The meet’s first stakes is the $50,000 Oakland, a six-furlong sprint scheduled for Saturday. Slated to run are Restless Youth, winner of the Sam Whiting at Pleasanton; Summer Excess, the winner of four straight since running second in his debut; and the stakes-placed Live Sundays. Only eight runners were nominated to the race.

A solid contingent of Northwestern runners should boost field size at Golden Gate Fields, Hartman said.

“You can’t underestimate what that number of horses do at our meet,” said Hartman. “Even if you only add one runner a race, it makes for better racing for our fans.”

Golden Gate, which conducted four-day race weeks earlier this year, is planning to run five days a week during its fall meeting, with Mondays and Tuesdays dark.

Several giveaways are planned, beginning Saturday at Dogtober Fest, when fans will be allowed to bring dogs to the track. The East Bay Humane Society will have animals available for adoption, and fans will receive a jockey boot pint glass.

The popular Dollar Day Sundays will continue, with all NFL games shown on televisions throughout the plant. Golden Gate will also host a weekly football-racing talk show which will air every Sunday afternoon on local station KTRB (860 AM).