08/24/2005 12:00AM

Purse boost for fall meet


SAN MATEO, Calif. - The Bay Meadows fall meeting opens Friday with higher purses for the track's meat-and-potatoes races, the $4,000 to $16,000 claimers. The 33-day meeting runs through Oct. 16.

The purses for open races at the $4,000 level will be $10,500; for $6,250 claimers, $12,000; for $12,500 claimers, $16,000; and for $16,000 claimers, $20,000. Maiden and allowance races also received purse bumps. Average daily purses for the meet will be $140,000 for cards of eight or nine races.

Bay Meadows racing secretary Tom Doutrich is hoping the higher purses will prompt new owners to race horses at Bay Meadows and established owners to expand their string. "We want to keep the people who stable here - who run here week to week, day to day - in business," he said.

"I think this is the best-balanced purse structure we've had here."

Doutrich also thinks field size will be up over last year, and there's reason to believe he's right. The meet is shorter this year by 16 days, there are 200 more horses on the grounds, and there is no State Fair overlap and a minimum overlap with Fresno in October.

The minimum purse for stakes has been increased, from $55,000 to a $60,000. Three $100,000 stakes are among the 11 stakes on the schedule, including three stakes on the Labor Day weekend.

The meet's lone graded race, the Grade 3, $125,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap, will be run Saturday, Oct. 1. Two $100,000 Cal-bred turf stakes are scheduled, the California Turf Champion-ship at one mile on Labor Day and the five-furlong California Turf Sprint Champion-ship on Sept. 24.

Continuing a popular program initiated at the winter-spring meeting, a three-race starter allowance series will be run on the turf. To be eligible for the series, a horse must have run for $6,250 or less for the current owner. The base purse for each race is $12,500 and there will be $20,000 in bonus money awarded at the end of the series: $10,000 for first, $5,000 for second, $3,000 for third and $2,000 for fourth. The bonus money will be distributed according to a point system based on a horse's finish in each race. The races are scheduled for Sept. 4 (one mile), Sept. 21 (1 1/8 miles), and Oct. 10 (1 3/8 miles).