Wrona Returns as Golden Gate Fields Opens

Golden Gate Fields' brief 29-day spring season begins Wednesday featuring the distinctive and familiar voice of Australian Michael Wrona, who has returned to the announcer's booth after a five-year absence.

Wrona, who is known for his colorful and exciting commentary, called the races at the Albany track for the majority of the 1990s before departing after the 1999 season.

Golden Gate Fields plans to pack a number of stakes races and promotions into its spring meet, which continues through June 19.

Post time throughout the meeting is 1 p.m. and racing will be conducted on a Wednesday through Sunday schedule. There will be a special Monday program on May 30, Memorial Day.

Eleven stakes, including six events carrying six-figure purses, will be run at the meeting. The stakes action begins opening weekend with the $150,000 Golden Bear Breeders' Cup on Saturday and the $100,000 Alcatraz Breeders' Cup on Sunday.

The Golden Bear is a six-furlong contest for 3-year-olds that will feature one of the most exciting horses in the nation, Lost in the Fog. Undefeated in five career starts, the brilliantly fast colt has won his races by an average winning margin of 7 1/4 lengths.

Trained by Greg Gilchrist and owned by Harry J. Aleo, Lost in the Fog has made $362,075. Hall of Famer Russell Baze will ride Lost in the Fog in the Golden Bear.

The Alcatraz is a one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, and is one of four stakes that will be contested on the Lakeside Turf Course. Among the nominees to the Alcatraz is Texcess, the winner of the $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs last November.

Golden Gate Fields will also showcase turf runners in the $100,000 Yerba Buena Handicap (gr. IIIT), a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares on Saturday, May 21; the $100,000 Golden Poppy Breeders' Cup, a one-mile contest for 3-year-old fillies on Monday, May 30; and the $100,000 Rolling Green Breeders' Cup Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up on Saturday, June 4.

Another highlight on the stakes schedule is the $100,000 Berkeley Handicap (gr. III), a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that will be run June 11.

Golden Gate Fields will give away T-shirts and host a beer festival this Saturday. On Memorial Day, the track will give away picnic blankets and conduct a family day celebration that will feature plenty of fun activities for kids. A wine festival will be held June 4. Fan Appreciation Day is June 19.