09/30/2007 11:00PM

Barns expected to be full

EmailFRESNO, Calif. - The 11-day Big Fresno Fair meeting, which opens Wednesday and runs through Oct. 14, includes a pair of $50,000 stakes races for Thoroughbreds, the Harvest Futurity at six furlongs for 2-year-olds on Oct. 12 and the one-mile Bull Dog Stakes on Oct. 14. The purse for the Harvest Futurity has been raised $10,000 from last year.

The fair's racing secretary, Zach Soto, said he has 650 stall requests and expects a full barn area for the meeting.

Wednesday's opening-day card includes four races for Thoroughbreds and five for other breeds, including two heats of the Mule Futurity trials. All four of the Thoroughbred races attracted full fields, although all are bottom-level events for both maidens and winners.

The Big Fresno Fair must compete for horses and wagering dollars with the Bay Meadows meet, but it will be helped by the fact that Bay Meadows will not run on Wednesdays and Thursdays for the next two weeks. Also, Bay Meadows runs Friday nights, while fair racing is during the day.

Fresno is the final stop on Northern California's fair circuit. The infield has been landscaped, including the area around the tote board. Vines planted in the paddock area continue to grow and fill in.

A new VIP deck for fans has been created near the clubhouse turn, similar to the VIP area that has proven popular at Pleasanton.

The track is the only one on the Northern California fair circuit to provide a Spanish-speaking announcer. Regular track announcer Frank Mirahmadi calls the races and makes announcements in English between races. George Ortuzar makes announcements in Spanish.

A $50,000 winner-take-all match race for mules will be run Saturday. The owners of the mules Sarah Nelson and JF Bar Hot Ticket have each put up $20,000 in addition to $10,000 from the track.