12/02/2005 1:00AM

Track working to keep turf available for race


ALBANY, Calif. - Thursday's heavy rain has left the status of the turf course questionable for Sunday's feature at Golden Gate Fields, a 1 1/16-mile optional $80,000 claimer.

The race is carded for the turf with six entrants. A seventh runner, Traffic Update, was listed only for the main track.

The race offers a $46,000 purse, with some of the money coming from Hollywood Park as part of an agreement reached by the Thoroughbred Owners of California and the tracks to send $166,000 to Golden Gate Fields. The idea is to encourage turf runners to remain in the state while Hollywood Park reinstalls a turf course that was left unusable for the current meeting.

Jason Spetnagel, director of plant/operations at Golden Gate, has kept the turf course here in good condition and said that if no more rain fell before Sunday the course would probably be available for the Sunday feature.

Masarin, a Grade 2 winner in his native Chile, has a stalking style that should work well. He scored his first U.S. victory in a $50,000 optional claimer one month ago and has worked well since then. This is a natural step up.

Shadow Raider and Railroad, a sprinter who is stretching out, figure to be pace factors.

Shadow Raider set the pace in three turf stakes at Bay Meadows, running second in the California Turf Championship and the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap, which he lost by a nose to stablemate Adreamisborn, and then finishing fifth in the Tanforan Handicap at 1 3/8 miles.

Dropped into a $12,500 starter handicap as trainer Jerry Hollendorfer looked for a confidence builder, Shadow Raider won by a head as the odds-on choice. The race was far stronger than the conditions might indicate.

If Sunday's race is run on the main track, Traffic Update appears the one to beat. He just won a similar race under the allowance conditions and returns here to run for a tag. In four starts since being claimed for $50,000 by trainer Art Sherman at Del Mar in August, Traffic Update has won two starts and finished third in the Bull Dog at the Big Fresno Fair.