Switch of Northern Cal Track Venues Unlikely
by Jack Shinar
Date Posted: 1/2/2003 6:30:55 PM

Although horsemen are prepared for the worst, it's unlikely that rain damage from recent storms will force officials to move racing in Northern California from Golden Gate Fields to Bay Meadows.

Dry weather for the past few days had improved the Golden Gate track condition to "good" by Thursday's first post. While skies remained overcast, there is no rain in the region's forecast for the next week.

Trainers have been able to work their horses on the inside part of the track for the past two days as well.

Track maintenance crews had posted "dogs" around the middle of the track for several days previously to protect the inside part of the racing surface, said Charles Dougherty Jr., who represents the California Thoroughbred Trainers in Northern California. The removal of the barriers helped reduce the irritation that trainers were feeling while trying to prepare horses to race, he said.

"My gut tells me they won't need to make the move (to Bay Meadows)," Dougherty said. Other track officials and trainers were in agreement Thursday morning.

Frustrated horsemen and Jack Liebau, president of both Magna Entertainment-owned Golden Gate and Bay Meadows, discussed the possibility of switching tracks for up to two weeks during a meeting on Tuesday.

Located on the opposite side of San Francisco Bay in San Mateo, Bay Meadows is about 30 miles southwest of Golden Gate Fields, which sits on the east bay shore in Albany. Golden Gate's current meeting is scheduled to run through March 30.

Two separate storms had dumped more than 10 inches of rain on Golden Gate in little more than a week in mid-December, leading to the cancellation of racing Dec. 22 when jockeys voted not to ride. Continued rain caused further deterioration of the surface and contributed to a pronounced rail bias.

The track condition had improved enough by Thursday that maintenance personnel were able to do light harrowing.

A meeting had been called for Saturday to evaluate the situation, but unless the track is hit with more bad weather, that should be unnecessary, Dougherty said.

"(Liebau) was saying he would need at least two or three days to make the move, so we figured there was no reason to make a decision (Tuesday)," he said. "It made more sense to wait (for Saturday) and see what happens."

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