09/21/2009 11:00PM

Juveniles get a chance to stretch out on turf


The decision by the California Authority of Racing Fairs to try to stretch 2-year-old runners out in distance sooner than in the past seems for the most part to have been well received.

"I think it's a good thing to stretch them out," trainer Greg Gilchist said. "I wish we'd get them racing earlier, too."

Two-year-olds were asked to run six furlongs at Santa Rosa and now will compete at one mile on the turf this Saturday at Golden Gate Fields in the Indyanne Stakes. Some trainers did say that they wished the Indyanne was scheduled over Golden Gate's Tapeta track rather than the turf.

Gilchrist said the 2-year-old program is under the gun in August in Northern California "because we move around so much" on the fair circuit.

Gilchrist used to use Santa Rosa to debut some of his talented 2-year-olds, but now that they train year-round on Golden Gate Fields's synthetic Tapeta surface, Gilchrist said he and other trainers wait an extra two weeks so that runners can make their debuts on a familiar surface.

Trainer Lloyd Mason is in favor of stretching 2-year-olds out in distance but said the lack of allowance opportunities for 2-year-olds can make it difficult to do so.

The opportunity to go two turns "helps a lot," Mason said, "but it's a big step for 2-year-olds."

The Indyanne is expected to attract Forbidden Paradise, who graduated at one mile on the turf at Del Mar on Aug. 27. Kaili, who won sprinting in her debut on the Golden Gate main track, and Moon Quist Rose, a maiden, also are scheduled to start.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has nominated Shirt and a Tie, Softly Singing, and Washington Bridge and has said he may enter two.

Stakes-placed Ridemetothemoon and maiden Fade to Gold are listed as possible.

Meet shows decline from 2008

The first two weeks at the Golden Gate Fields fair meet showed a sharp decrease in handle compared to the two-week Bay Meadows Fair meet of 2008.

Ontrack handle was down 34 percent, but last year's meet at Bay Meadows was the final one at the historic track and attracted large crowds. Attendance was 37,365, including 10,026 on the final day of racing at Bay Meadows, compared to Golden Gate's total of 19,200, which included two Sunday dollar day promotions. The Bay Meadows ontrack handle was $5,978,296, compared with Golden Gate's $3,935,248.

Golden Gate has proved more popular with out-of-state bettors, showing a 2 percent increase, with wagers totaling $8,065,371 compared with $7,870,852 last year at Bay Meadows.

The all-sources handle decreased 14 percent, from $18,024,846 to $15,566,758.

The 11-day Sacramento State Fair meet, which concluded Sept. 7, showed a 10 percent decrease in ontrack handle from 2008, with $2,787,249 wagered this year compared to $3,097,263 last year.

However, with a 20 percent increase in out-of-state wagering this year - $5,563,234 compared with $4,643,100 in 2008 - the Sacramento all-sources handle improved 11 percent to $14,038,023 from $12,696,041.

Baze enjoys big weekend

Jockey Russell Baze went on the road Saturday as a guest rider at the Idaho Cup Day program at Sandy Downs in Idaho Falls. He rode six races, winning three and coming in second with his other three mounts.

Among his winners was Shivers Me, who set a track record of 1:37.40 for the mile while winning the Idaho Cup Derby. Shivers Me's time was two full seconds faster than the previous mile record on the 6 1/2-furlong track.

"It was fun," Baze said. "The people were really friendly. The track lacked amenities but had the necessities. There weren't any valets, so you had to take care of things yourself, and guys from the starting gate would come over and help saddle the horses. There was no running water [in the jockeys' quarters], no showers. They did have bottled water for the riders."

Jim Bernard, a trainer who also helps out with the operations at Sandy Downs, said the handle on 11 races was more than $67,000. The normal handle is usually between $20,000 to $25,000.

The one-day road trip didn't affect Baze's lead in the Golden Gate jockey standings after he won four races Friday and three Sunday. He has won with 19 of 45 mounts at the current meeting. William Antongeorgi III is second with seven winners from 46 mounts.

* Jockey David Lopez may not miss any time despite suffering a concussion and bruising to the left side of his body when Brother John tried to jump the inside turf rail just before the wire during Sunday's sixth race. Lopez, who wears a larger helmet than other riders because of past concussions, was sent to Highland Hospital in Oakland for a precautionary CT scan. Brother John was uninjured.