SF Mile Boosted to $400,000 for Golden Gate Meet

The $400,000 San Francisco Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IIT), the richest race in Northern California, is one of eight six-figure stakes that Golden Gate Fields has scheduled for its 2006 spring meeting. The 65-day season begins Wednesday.

The spring session runs through May 7. The standard racing week is Wednesday through Sunday.

The SF Mile, run on the grass at Bay Meadows from 2001-05 with a $150,000 purse last year, returns home this spring to Golden Gate Fields, where it was inaugurated in 1948. This year's Mile is to be run on April 29, and with $100,000 from the Breeders' Cup fund, will carry a purse that equals the biggest ever offered in Northern California. The Golden Gate Handicap had a purse of $400,000 from 1990-1992.

"We thought it was important to re-establish the San Francisco Mile as our signature race," said Golden Gate Fields racing secretary Sean Greely of the purse increase. "It's a significant purse and I think we can attract the best horses that excel at a mile or a mile and a sixteenth."

The stakes program also includes the $150,000 All American Handicap (gr. III, 1 1/8 miles, 4-year-olds and up on Feb. 20), the $150,000 Golden Gate Handicap (gr. IIIT, 1 1/8 miles on turf, 4-year-olds and up on March 25), and the $150,000 Yerba Buena Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT, 1 1/8 miles turf, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up on May 7).

Other six-figure stakes races are the $100,000 California Breeders' Cup Oaks (a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies on Feb. 11); $100,000 California Derby (1 1/16 miles, 3-year-olds on March 11); the $100,000 Work The Crowd Handicap (1 1/16 miles turf, fillies and mares bred in California, 4-year-olds and up on April 1) and the $100,000 Golden Gate Fields Sprint (six furlongs on April 22).

"I think it's imperative for Northern California and California in general to have a strong stakes program," said Greely. "We need to stay competitive on a national level. We have to offer a stakes program that's not only competitive money-wise, but graded stakes-wise so that people will send their horses here."

The Golden Gate Fields Sprint, sponsored by the Oakland Tribune, expects to draw Eclipse Award winner Lost in the Fog, the champion sprinter of 2005. Lost in the Fog has 10 wins in 11 starts and owns the Golden Gate Fields track record for six furlongs of 1:07.32.