12/31/2002 1:00AM

Switch to Bay Meadows considered

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ALBANY, Calif. - Concerns about the condition of the track prompted northern California trainers and track officials on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of moving the Golden Gate races to Bay Meadows next Wednesday.

The Bay Area has been hit with an unusual amount of rain for the last three weeks. Some trainers say the track has become uneven, with the outside surface much heavier than the inside, which compromises horses racing on the outside. They also said there is not enough room to train their horses, because dogs have been set up to protect the inside part of the track.

F. Jack Liebau, the president and general manager for both Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows, said if rains continue this week, he would meet with the trainers Saturday to decide whether to move racing to Bay Meadows. That would allow the Golden Gate Fields track time to recover.

Liebau said the races may not have to be moved if the rains stop.

"The reports are good that there may not be much rain the rest of the week," he said. "If that's the case, [the track] would be okay."

Liebau said that California Horse Racing Board regulations allow for transfer of dates, but that the track would first seek the approval of the Board.

There were "mixed feelings" at the meeting about whether the racing should be moved to Bay Meadows, Liebau said, "but most [trainers] thought we'd be better off staying [at Golden Gate Fields]."

Several trainers, though, came out of the meeting believing racing would be held at Bay Meadows next week.

John Harris, vice chairman of the CHRB, said he saw no problems with a possible switch.

Liebau had only one concern with the possible switch.

"If we went to Bay Meadows for two weeks, it's likely a number of trainers would not enter and wait it out until we return to Golden Gate, which is a factor I hadn't previously cranked into the equation," Liebau said.

Liebau said that the possibility of winterizing the Golden Gate Fields surface was also discussed at the meeting.