10/17/2016 10:16AM

Juvenile stakes series highlight of Golden Gate fall meet

Barbara D. Livingston
Golden Gate Fields opens its 32-day fall meeting on Thursday.

In many ways, the best racing of the year at Golden Gate Fields comes during the fall meet. Fields are generally fuller than during the spring and summer, with many 2-year-olds ready to race and horses who departed for Washington in the spring having returned after the conclusion of the Emerald Downs racing season. Even horses who left Northern California to compete at Del Mar during the summer are back home.

It’s also the time of year when Golden Gate is able to schedule a solid stakes schedule highlighted by the Grade 3, $100,000 Berkeley Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 26 and a series of 2-year-old stakes leading up to the California Derby and Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby next year during the track’s long winter-spring meet.

The 32-day fall meet begins Thursday and continues through Dec. 11 on a Thursday-through-Sunday schedule.

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The 2-year-old stakes begin Oct. 29 with the $75,000 Pike Place Dancer for fillies going one mile on turf. The next race in the series is the $50,000-added Golden Nugget for both sexes Nov. 12, followed by the $50,000-added Golden Gate Debutante for fillies on Nov. 25. Both races are at six furlongs on the Tapeta main track.

The $75,000 Gold Rush at one mile on Dec. 3 is the final 2-year-old stakes of the year at Golden Gate.

Among the meet’s eight stakes is a new one – the $75,000 Bear Fan, a six-furlong sprint for California-bred fillies and mares on Dec. 4.

The $50,000-added Oakland is a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up on Nov. 19. The $50,000-added Miss America for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf Dec. 10 concludes the 2016 stakes season in Northern California.

Both the turf course and the main track have been renovated. The turf course has been reseeded, and new fibers have been added to the Tapeta surface, which should help keep the track in good shape when winter rains hit.

Golden Gate has begun recording its races in high definition, said assistant general manager and vice president Calvin Rainey. He also noted that the track has rebuilt its website and is increasing its social-media presence with the hiring of new marketing director Joseph Rakowski.

“We’re trying to do things locally to enhance racing to attract fans,” said Rainey.