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Golden Gate Fields Begins New Season

Only major racing facility in Northern California expecting bigger fields this fall.

(from Golden Gate Fields release)

Golden Gate Fields, the only major racing facility in Northern California at the present time with the closure of Bay Meadows, opens its 2008 fall/winter meeting Sept. 17.

The 67-day stand starts on a strong note with 82 horses entered for the eight-race opening day program and 81 more set to run on the Sept. 18 eight-race card.

The average field size at the two most recent Golden Gate Fields meetings (the 2007-2008 season and 2008 spring session) was 8.2 runners.  While small fields have plagued the Northern California fair circuit this summer, track general manager Robert Hartman expects the trend to return to bigger fields.

"We have 1,325 horses stabled here at Golden Gate Fields, and another 684 horses stabled at Pleasanton," he said. "We have horses coming in from Seattle and Vancouver. I think horsemen relish racing their horses on our Tapeta surface and look forward to the return of grass racing.

"The Tapeta racing surface and the turf course are both in great shape, and we've made many new fan-friendly and horse-friendly improvements," he added. "The turf club has been remodeled, the paddock has been redesigned and a new owner/trainer lounge is being built."

Tapeta, an all-weather synthetic surface designed to make horse racing a safer sport, made a successful debut at the 2007-2008 meeting.  Not only was it kind to horses, it played fair, with speed horses and closers both getting an equal chance at victory. Favorites won at a 35% clip and successful handicappers were handsomely rewarded with the average win payoff a healthy $13.27.

The Tapeta surface will be used for the richest race of the fall season, the $200,000 All American, a grade III race for 3-year-olds and up to be run Sept. 27. One of nine stakes that will be presented at the meeting, the All American will serve as a prep for horses being pointed for the Breeders' Cup, which will be run four weeks later at Santa Anita Park.

Hartman also has plans to attract football fans.

"Every Sunday, Golden Gate Fields will turn into the Bay Area's largest sports bar," said Hartman. "We've subscribed to the NFL Sunday Ticket, which allows us to show every National Football League game. We'll also offer fans $1 general admission, $1 general parking, $1 beers, $1 hot dogs, $1 sodas and $1 racing programs every Sunday during the season. With 1,200 television monitors, all the NFL games and $1 specials, Golden Gate Fields is definitely the place to be on Sundays."

Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day will be at Golden Gate Fields Sept. 21 to help raise money for the Race Track Chaplaincy of America. In exchangefor donations, Day will sign autographs and take photos with fans starting at noon. A reception, which will feature an inspirational speech by Day, will be held in the turf club that night.

The meeting runs through Dec. 21 with racing is conducted on a Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule.