10/17/2005 12:00AM

Tanforan first of four major stakes


ALBANY, Calif. - Golden Gate Fields hopes to build on momentum created at its spring mini-meet when it opens a 46-day fall meeting Wednesday.

Last spring, Golden Gate Fields started strong during its 28-day meet, creating a stakes race for Lost in the Fog, who responded by setting a track record before a large and enthusiastic crowd. It was just the jump start that was needed, and the track used that momentum for a successful meeting.

Golden Gate Fields cannot count on Lost in the Fog this fall, although it will give away Lost in the Fog ball caps on Saturday and Lost in the Fog calendars on Dec. 10. It hopes to benefit by his appearance in the Breeders' Cup on Oct. 29, the first time the Breeders' Cup has been run during one of Golden Gate's live meetings.

Golden Gate Fields will offer one of its four $100,000 stakes on Saturday, the Tanforan Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf. It also offers the $100,000 Miss America for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the turf on Oct. 30.

"You've got to hit the ground running," general manager Peter Tunney said. "You have to get your momentum going right at the beginning."

On Nov. 5, the Grade 3 Silky Sullivan will offer $100,000 to 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

The lone $100,000 stakes on the main track, the Forty-Niner Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, will be run Nov. 25.

The track is also offering seven other stakes, with stakes on both weekend days the first two weeks.

"We want to develop a good stakes program," Tunney said. "We want people to know if you have a good horse you can run here. We think a good stakes program can help an overnight program.

"I'm a big proponent of a strong overnight program, but it's got to be accompanied by a corresponding stakes program."

With the end of the Emerald Downs meeting in Washington, Tunney said he expects an influx of horses to fill the 1,300 stalls in the barn area.

With the revised, shorter schedule, ending the meet six days before Christmas rather than the end of January, Tunney is hopeful that Golden Gate's main track and turf course will hold up better.

Last year, material was added to the main track to make it safer for the horses, and Tunney said the surface is in fine shape for the start of the meet.