08/05/2002 11:00PM

Boag, Burns relish their working holiday


FERNDALE, Calif. - Jockeys Danny Boag and Jim Burns and trainer Dennis Hopkins, who have made the winner's circle here their home away from home in recent years, could be in the spotlight again Thursday in the seven-furlong, $3,000 Fermo Cambianica, when the Humboldt County Fair opens its 105th race meeting.

Named for the legendary California race handicapper, the Fermo Cambianica - restricted to $2,500 claimers who are still seeking their initial win this year - lured 10 horses. Eight will be allowed to start in the Cambianica, the finale of a seven-race opening day program.

Boag, who won Humboldt riding titles in 1997, 1999, and 2000, will climb aboard Hammerin' Hank for Hopkins, who has claimed four training titles in the past five Ferndale meetings.

Burns, who started riding in 1977 on this tight-turned, half-mile track, has captured five jockey titles and comes off a stellar 2001 meet, in which he won 21 races in 10 days. He will handle Eldorado Ridge for trainer Karen Haverty.

"Both of us just love riding here," said Burns about himself and Boag. "The fans are super, the racing is exciting, and it's a working vacation for us."

Hammerin' Hank will be looking to end a drought that started after he won his maiden in July 2000 at Los Alamitos. Eldorado Ridge has habitually finished fourth and fifth since beating $12,500 claimers last summer at Stockton.

Racing will be conducted on 10 afternoons through Sunday, Aug. 18. The lone dark day will be this Tuesday. Post times will be 2:25 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; 2:55 p.m. on Fridays; and 1:55 p.m. on weekends.

Highlighting the stakes program is the closing day doubleheader of the $12,500 Humboldt Marathon Handicap at 1 5/8 miles, where horses cross the finish line four times, and $5,000 Cream City Handicap, where the legendary mule Black Ruby seeks her 60th career victory and a fourth consecutive stakes win here.