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by Chuck Dybdal of

Golden Gate Fields carries momentum into summer meet - HORSE RACING, Golden Gate Fields hopes to continue the positive trend from its long winter-spring meeting when racing resumes Thursday for a 16-day summer meeting.

The meet runs Thursdays through Sundays and ends Sept. 17. First post is 1:45 p.m. Pacific. General admission is free Sundays.

Despite heavy rains earlier this year, Golden Gate showed a 3.44 percent increase in ontrack wagering and 5.6 percent increase in attendance from the previous season during its 99-day winter-spring meeting, which ran from Dec. 26, 2016 through June 17.

“We started off kind of rough,” track vice president Calvin Rainey said. “The rain hindered attendance, but we made some big gains in the spring.”

Rainey is hoping the track’s Summer Turf Festival, which runs Sept. 8-17, will attract fans and horses. There is no turf racing in Southern California during that time, and Golden Gate will offer shipping incentives to trainers. The meet’s lone stakes race, the $50,000-added Rolling Green, a 1 1/16-mile turf race, will be run on closing day.

Rainey noted that warm weather the week before the start of the meeting should help the turf course after a period of cooler temperatures earlier in August in the San Francisco Bay area.

“We’ve had a bit of cold weather during ‘Fogust,’ but the forecast suggests a little more sun, which will encourage growth,” he said.

Trainer John Martin will be seeking his third straight Golden Gate training title after winning last year’s fall meeting and the winter-spring meeting titles.

Jockey Abel Cedillo also will try to repeat as the leading jockey after a strong performance at the winter-spring meet.

Sundays were a bright spot during the winter-spring meet, with attendance up 13 percent, and Rainey hopes that continues. Golden Gate will continue to offer some food and beverage items for $1 on Sundays.

The track will host a free Thoroughbred Owners of California conformation clinic Sept. 9 to help owners and potential owners develop an eye for horses.

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