01/04/2003 1:00AM

Golden Gate trainers stay put


ALBANY, Calif. - Northern California trainers have agreed to continue running at Golden Gate Fields now that dry weather has helped improve the track surface.

Charlie Dougherty, the deputy director of California Thoroughbred Trainers, said trainers met Friday with officials of Magna Entertainment, which operates Golden Gate, as a follow-up to a Tuesday meeting when the option of closing Golden Gate for two weeks and running at Bay Meadows was discussed.

"I don't think anyone wanted to move from a cost standpoint. That would have been the last alternative," Dougherty said. According to Dougherty, most of the trainers at Golden Gate think that Juan Meza, the track superintendent, "is doing everything to maintain the track and try to fix the problem."

Dougherty said trainers had been concerned about having to train around barriers set up to protect the inside path, but those have been down since Wednesday.

With no rain since brief showers Tuesday, the track has had time to dry out since being inundated with 23 inches of rain in 18 days. The rains were so heavy that deep puddles still remain in various spots in the barn area.

With no rain scheduled and the temperature predicted to be in in the 60's and 70's early next week, Richard Lewis, director of racing operations for Golden Gate, said the track should be dry by Wednesday's racing.

The track will be regraded and bladed in order to improve drainage, and some sand will be added to the track Tuesday. Those measures will be taken after training hours on Monday and Tuesday.

Magna will explore the option of adding synthetic track additives to the Golden Gate Fields track after the end of the meeting as a way to help winterize the surface for the future. Bay Meadows currently has such additives and is considered a better wet-weather track.