Golden Gate Fields

Golden Gate Fields

Anne M. Eberhardt

Golden Gate's Winter Meet Begins Dec. 26

Bay Area track will run an 118-day stand through June 14.

(from Golden Gate Fields release)

Golden Gate Fields will give horse racing fans a present the day after Christmas when it opens its 118-day winter/spring season Dec. 26. Post time is 12:15 p.m.

Friday's opener will feature nine races, including the $75,000 Silveyville Stakes, the third contest on the card. Pass the Heat, a 5-year-old gelding who has won nine of his 19 career races and $330,499, is among the six horses entered in the Silveyville.

Opening weekend runs through Monday. Post time Saturday, Sunday and Monday is 12:45 p.m. Fans attending the track Dec. 27 will receive a free 2009 Golden Gate Fields wall calendar.

The winter/spring session will run through June 14, and features 18 stakes races worth a total of $1,850,000. Highlights of the meeting include the $100,000 California Derby (which will be run Jan. 17), the grade III $200,000 El Camino Real Derby (Feb. 14), the grade II $300,000 San Francisco Mile (April 25), the grade III $150,000 Berkeley Stakes (May 25), and the grade III $100,000 Golden Gate Fields Turf (May 30).

The El Camino Real Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds, is Northern California's premier prep race for the Kentucky Derby. Golden Gate Fields inherited the race from Bay Meadows, which held its last race on Aug. 17.

The San Francisco Mile is Northern California's lone grade II stakes and always attracts top turf performers.

"Historically, it's been the most important race in Northern California, and we want to keep it there," said Golden Gate Fields racing secretary Sean Greely of the SF Mile.