04/22/2007 11:00PM

New schedule seen for Northern California


ALBANY, Calif. - Golden Gate Fields, the California Authority of Racing Fairs, Thoroughbred Owners of California, and California Thoroughbred Trainers have jointly come up with a Northern California racing schedule in 2008, said Robert Hartman, the general manager of Golden Gate Fields, which opens on Wednesday.

With Bay Meadows expected to close at the end this year, Golden Gate would pick up about 50 dates and race 154 days next year, and fair sites would race for 100 days. Pleasanton and Santa Rosa would run more days than last year, and Cal Expo at Sacramento, which has run harness horses exclusively the past two years, would run a Thoroughbred meet.

Bay Meadows said it would not request dates for 2008 after the California Horse Racing Board in March rejected the track's request for an exemption from the board's mandate that every track running a meet of four or more weeks must have a synthetic surface installed by Jan. 1, 2008. Golden Gate will install a synthetic Tapeta Footings racing surface this summer.

Under the proposed calendar, Golden Gate Fields would race from Dec. 26, 2007, to March 9, 2008. Then Pleasanton would race March 14-30; Golden Gate Fields April 2-June 22; Pleasanton June 27-July 20; Santa Rosa July 23-Aug. 17; Sacramento Aug. 20-Sept. 14; Stockton Sept. 17-28; Fresno Oct. 3-19; and Golden Gate Fields Oct. 22-Dec. 14.

"We're going to be the cornerstone of Northern California racing," Hartman said.

Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns Golden Gate Fields, had intended to build a racetrack in Dixon, near Sacramento, but Dixon voters rejected the plan on April 17. Magna will continue to pursue a racing facility in Dixon, company officials said.

In addition to installing a synthetic surface, Golden Gate Fields plans to upgrade its barn area and add 250 stalls to offset the loss of stabling at Bay Meadows. Golden Gate Fields is also planning to construct a memorial to Eclipse winner Lost in the Fog, who died of cancer last year.