07/21/2007 12:00AM

Butters won't be 68-1 this time

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Trainer Angelo Tekos Jr. laughs when asked if he expects Butters to go off at 68-1 again when she runs in Monday's Sonoma County Fair feature.

The 3-year-old Butters, who has only run twice, drew the outside post against five rivals in a $25,000 optional claimer at six furlongs.

Even though two of her rivals have better last-race Beyer Speed Figures and a third has a higher career best than the 69 Butters received in her last start, Butters may be the favorite. That's because Butters recorded her first - and, thus far, only - career victory in the $49,000 Sweepida Stakes at Stockton in a stunning $138.20 upset on June 23.

Tekos had plenty of second thoughts leading up to the Sweepida. Not this time, however.

"You have to prove yourself in every race, but I think she could be a decent filly in Northern California," Tekos said.

By El Prado out of a Theatrical mare, Butters seemed destined for the turf, where she made her debut. But she hated the grass and came out of the race sore.

Tekos admitted bringing her back in a stakes was unorthodox, but there was method in the seeming madness. There were no guarantees a scheduled maiden race would fill at the upcoming Pleasanton meet, and the Pleasanton track traditionally favors early speed, which Butters lacks.

"There wasn't much to choose from," he said. "I didn't think the race was that tough, aside from the favorite."

Conceding "sprints might be too short for her," Tekos said he is glad that Butters will run six furlongs Monday instead of the 5 1/2 furlongs she raced in the stakes.

Tekos said it makes sense to sprint Butters again, but he expects to stretch her out in the future.

"I hate to stretch her out if she's doing well sprinting," he said. "But the way she's worked, she's always galloped out well. She's galloped out better than any horse I've ever had."

Any Afternoon and Go Malabar Gold, second and third in a July 5 race against similar at Pleasanton, both earned higher last-race Beyers than Butters. Go Malabar Gold could find herself on the lead here, while Any Afternoon can stalk or close.

Solano all-source handle up

Continuing the trend of the first two fairs on the Northern California fair circuit, the Solano County Fair showed a 4.7 percent increase in its all-source handle for its five-day meet.

The ontrack handle for live races dipped 2.6 percent from $1,100,101 to $1,070,996, but was buoyed by a 10 percent increase in out-of-state wagering on Solano races. The all-sources handle for five days increased from $9,447,036 for the first five days of its 10-day 2006 meet to $9,894,010 this year.

The Solano and Sonoma fairs have joined together to run a combined meet this year with three weeks of racing at the Sonoma County Fair and only one at Solano.