02/18/2003 1:00AM

Six spring stakes worth over $100k


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Bay Meadows will run 16 stakes races, including six worth at least $100,000, at its upcoming spring meet, April 2 through June 15.

That is five fewer stakes than at last year's spring meet, but only one of the five races was eliminated. Two will instead be run during the current Golden Gate Fields meet, and two stakes races for 2-year-olds were moved to the fall.

The meet's premier race will be the Grade 2 San Francisco Breeders' Cup Mile. The $200,000 turf race at will be held April 26.

Several other stakes races will have decreases in purse money.

"There is only so much purse money. That money is finite," said F. Jack Liebau, Bay Meadows president and general manager.

"California is at a tremendous disadvantage against other states with slot machines for lower-priced horses that are the bread and butter of every card. People come in and buy horses and take them out of state, which depletes our population. Northern California can only keep its horse population by paying higher purses for lower-level runners. The only way to do that is to cut purses on stakes."

Under an agreement with the Thoroughbred Owners of California, Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields raised their bottom-level purses to $9,000. Some allowance levels also received a boost, and seven overnight stakes were raised from $55,000 to $60,000.

The purse for the Bay Meadows Oaks was increased to $75,000 from $55,000.