09/02/2007 11:00PM

Opinions vary on purse distribution changes


SAN MATEO, Calif. - A new method of distributing purses at Bay Meadows that gives more to the winner but less to the third- through fifth-place finishers has polarized horsemen here.

Beginning this meet, winners receive 60 percent of the purse, rather than the previous 55 percent. The runner-up still receives 20 percent, but the third-place finisher now gets 12 percent (rather than 15 percent), fourth place gets 6 percent (7.5), and fifth place gets 2 percent (2.5).

The new purse breakdown was passed unanimously before the meet by the Thoroughbred Owners of California executive council, TOC director Tom Bachman said. The logic behind giving the winner more and the also-rans less is to increase field size and quality, he said.

"Sixty percent is the norm throughout the county," Bachman said, noting that only Emerald Downs in Seattle and Northern California paid 55 percent to winners.

"One of the things we're trying to do is make allowance races and little stakes go. We think we'll get bigger fields with horses more likely to ship in if we pay 60 percent to the winner. We're trying to get better races to go. We've been feeding the bottom [claiming levels] for some time."

Bachman hopes the extra purse money for the winner will encourage owners to upgrade their stock.

Trainer Bill Anton is one of the more outspoken opponents of the change.

"It's making the rich richer and the poor poorer," he said. "This really hurts the little guy, who will be getting about $300 less for third. An extra $300 here or there can really make a difference. It doesn't sound like much, but it is. It could be straw for a whole month."

Trainer Chuck Jenda said: "I don't think it's good. They need to reward the third- and fourth-place finishers and help them pay their bills."

Trainers Armando Lage and Bill Morey Jr. are in favor of the change.

"It should push people to run to win and not just run for the third or fourth money," Lage said. "It might make races more competitive, and we have to give fans a good product."

Said Morey, "Whoever wins deserves more."

As for Bay Meadows racing secretary Tom Doutrich, he is adopting a wait-and-see attitude.

"It's too early," he said. "I don't think we know how it will affect things yet."

The TOC's Bachman said a poll of Northern California members on the purse change would be taken before the Golden Gate Fields meeting opens Nov. 7.

Bisono aims to reel in Baze

With Russell Baze serving a 15-day suspension through Sept. 16 for whip abuse, 23-year-old Alex Bisono is hoping to make a run at the top.

He began Sunday tied for second in the Bay Meadows rider standings with David Lopez with seven wins, 10 behind behind Baze. Bisono quickly claimed second for himself with four wins Sunday, including an easy victory in the first aboard Bertrand at Mr A's, a 1-20 shot, who had $152,653 of the $162,243 in the show pool bet on him.

"I saw the odds," Bisono said. "That is a little bit of pressure, but I think pressure makes me a better rider."

Bisono won races early at the meet for Jerry Hollendorfer and Gil Matos, and that helped show the trainers here what he could do, said his agent, Ron Freitas.

"That was a key," Freitas said. "He had four wins his first four days. There are a lot of good riders who are at the top of their game around here now. I don't know if Alex can establish himself as the No. 2 rider behind Russell, but if he can establish success for the top barns, maybe they'll keep him as their second choice behind Russell."

Bisono said, "Right now, it's really important to me to prove to trainers I'm capable and, if they put me on the right horse, I can do a good job."

Bisono rode in Southern California for nearly four years. He came to Northern California this summer after recovering from an ankle injury suffered in May.

Indyanne set for Debutante

Trainer Greg Gilchrist nominated his talented opening-day winner Indyanne for Saturday's $60,000 Bay Meadows Debutante at six furlongs. Ten other 2-year-old fillies were nominated, and Doutrich said he was confident the race would go despite the fact Indyanne will be a heavy favorite.

"We'll try very hard," he said. "It's very important to get races like this for younger horses."

* Trainer Efrain Miranda was fined $1,000 after Betterwinsome, winner of the fourth race at the Solano County Fair on July 12, tested for an excess of phenylbutazone. Jockey Carlos Silva begins a three-day suspension Wednesday for causing interference aboard C.J. Hawk in Bay Meadows's sixth race on Aug. 26.

* A golf tournament to help jockey Chance Rollins, critically injured in a June 2006 racing accident, will be held at the Sprint Valley Golf Course in Milpitas on Sept. 24. The $125 cost per player includes lunch, dinner, golf, and a cart. Check-in begins at 11:30 a.m., with a 1 p.m. tee time. The tournament will be a four-person scramble format. For information or to sign up, contact Ray Harris (510) 912-2775 or Bob Hack (510) 409-7386.

* When racing resumes Friday, first post will be at 12:45 p.m. for the remainder of the meet except for five Friday cards that begin at 7 p.m.