Updated on 09/18/2011 1:46AM

Hoping that less might result in more


ALBANY, Calif. - Tuesday's opening of the Golden Gate Fields meeting could signal the start of a new era in northern California racing or simply a brief experiment.

The 31-day meet will include four-day race weeks rather than the traditional five-day weeks. Racing will be conducted Thursday through Sunday, with the exception of the opener and the Monday cards of New Year's Day and Dr. Martin Luther King Day.

With short fields becoming common in northern California, the California Horse Racing Board, Thoroughbred Owners of California, and the racetrack agreed to try racing four days a week, said Golden Gate Fields general manager Robert Hartman.

"It's important to see trends start reversing," he said. "The product up here hasn't been stellar. We felt four-day race weeks would go a long way to improving field size.

"We hope the short weeks help with supply and demand for horsemen and fans."

One year from now, Golden Gate Fields will have an synthetic surface when a Tapeta surface is installed this summer after the spring meeting ends on June 10.

Although live racing will be held only four days a week, the track will be open five days a week, with simulcasting offered on Wednesdays. There are eight races scheduled for Thursdays and Fridays and nine on Saturdays and Sundays. But if the track thinks it can maintain field size, it might card 10 races on some days, Hartman said. Stakes that are scheduled for 10-race cards would likely be run even if the race draws fewer than five entrants, he said. In the past, stakes that drew fewer than five horses were often not carded because they drew little betting handle, but adding a 10th race would allow Golden Gate to treat the stakes like an extra race.

Hartman said it's "critical to give [stakes horses] a chance to run."

Hartman said Golden Gate Fields would aggressively try to attract fans to the short meeting.

"We have allocated more money in advertising than any time in the last decade," he said. "We have an aggressive promotional campaign starting with a calendar giveaway opening day."

Six runners were entered in Tuesday's opening day stakes, the $50,000-added Union Square at 1 1/16 miles.

The race will provide a rematch between McCann's Mojave and Dr. Einstein, who finished a nose apart in a Dec. 10 allowance race at Bay Meadows. McCann's Mojave caught the 3-year-old Dr. Einstein in the final stride of a one-mile race.

Dr. Einstein, who drew the rail, appears the likely pacesetter again, with McCann's Mojave getting another great stalking trip.

But it is far from a two-horse race. Passive Income, Dr. Einstein's stablemate, who beat him by a half-length in the North Beach here last spring, is also entered and will also be sitting just off the pace with McCann's Mojave.

The stakes winner My Creed, stakes-placed Real Temptation, and Logician round out the field.

The first race might have a stronger field than the stakes. The stakes winners Press Camp, Secret Scheme, and Slew Motion meet in a six-furlong allowance sprint for fillies.