03/22/2006 12:00AM

Will stakes remain on the turf?


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainers and Golden Gate Fields racing secretary Sean Greely are watching the weather closely, with the Grade 3, $150,000 Golden Gate Fields Handicap Saturday scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

The turf course has not been used since Feb. 25 because of inclement weather. Through Wednesday, 19 races carded for the turf since then have been switched to the main track. Wednesday's two scheduled turf races were switched, and Friday's scheduled races are likely to be switched to preserve the course for Saturday's race.

If Saturday's race is moved to the main track, it would lose its grading this year.

"We're going to keep it on the grass if at all possible," Greely said. "We will do so unless it's unsafe."

The race will have only six runners, including three from leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer - , and Symphony Sid. Ace Blue and Symphony Sid are owned by Sid and Jenny Craig, but in a stakes race they can go as separate betting interests.

, Capitano, and Cosmonaut will ship from Southern California.

Some Southern California trainers were not entering because they felt the course might be too soft, Greely said.

Next Trieste looks good

A field of 10 was entered in Friday's feature, a $40,000 starter allowance at one mile.

is the least experienced runner but he seems to have a lot in his favor.

He was last every step of the way in a field of four in his debut, which came sprinting in the mud at Bay Meadows on Jan. 19. He was first every step of the way in his second start, a $32,000 maiden claimer at 1 1/16 miles here on March 5.

is another recent maiden winner, and Greatdayinthelake qualifies for the race by having run for a $40,000 claiming tag two starts back.

Next Trieste won't be allowed to set an easy pace, like he did in winning his maiden. But that win was so good that he should be tough. He also gets a five-pound weight break and leading rider Martin Garcia.