10/14/2003 11:00PM

Slim pickings at night

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Another Friday night at Bay Meadows unfolds with the possibility of more action at the bandstand than on the racetrack.

The cards for the long-running Friday's Alive promotion are usually hard to fill, but this Friday took a particularly hard hit.

Only 46 horses were entered in the eight races on a program that begins at 7 p.m. No superfectas, which require eight entrants, will be offered, and only five races will have trifectas, which require fields of six.

"Due to overlaps and a six-day week, we just don't have the horse population right now," racing secretary Tom Doutrich said. "If it weren't for the Seattle trainers, I don't know where we'd be."

To help fill the Friday night cards, trainers are given $50 when horses stabled on the grounds are entered. Trainers entering horses stabled off the grounds are given $150.

Attendance is higher on Fridays than on other days, and a younger crowd is attracted to $2 beers and live music. More groups use the turf club on Friday nights, and studies have shown that the nighttime cards attract more first-timers to the races.

On the Friday night programs, out-of-state handle is normally down substantially, but the live ontrack handle is up.

'Hoover' heads feature

Friday's feature matches six older runners at one mile in a $25,000 claimer.

Hoovergetthekeys, winner of the Golden Gate Derby and El Camino Real Derby as a 3-year-old when he was on the Triple Crown trail, will be seeking his first victory in more than one year.

The 5-year-old Hoovergetthekeys is 0 for 5 this year for hot trainer Brian Koriner, but four of his starts have been in stakes races. He has sprinted in his past two starts and with his late run may be better suited to two turns.

Nautico, who faded badly on the turf in his first start in eight months, may be able to get an easy lead and could be tough to catch. After the Run, who never threatened against better on the turf in his comeback, will make his second start after a layoff of nearly four months and returns to the main track, where he notched his last win.

* Defending champion Angel Gift heads a list of 10 nominees for Saturday's $60,000-added Golden Poppy Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. Rhiana, third in this year's Grade 1 Santa Margarita at Santa Anita, is also nominated.