08/30/2004 11:00PM

Day-night doubleheaders might have future


SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The California State Fair's initial day-night doubleheader Friday went smoothly and might be scheduled again next year.

"I'm glad we did it," said Dave Elliott, the fair's director of racing. "We'd definitely consider doing it again, although we'll hold judgment until we analyze all the data. Operationally, we know it works.

"We had a good crowd," Elliott added. "Because of the harness racing that's run at Cal Expo, people here think of racing as a nighttime event. We got over early enough that the horsemen were happy, and several were amazed at the number of people who stayed on after the last race."

The ultimate measure of the experiment, in which nine races were run Friday afternoon and eight Friday night, beginning at 6 p.m., will be determined not only by total handle but also by the number of horses that return to run again during the Fair's second week.

Racing secretary Grant Baker wrote an excellent condition book. Of the 17 races on Friday, only one extra race needed to be written. Fifteen were listed in the book, and one of them was divided into two because of overflow entries.

"I tried to put the easier-to-fill categories in the book for that day," Baker said. "It was more work, but the horsemen cooperated. They entered early. It was a longer day, but it went pretty well. We appreciated everybody's effort. We'll see how it pans out the second week and get feedback from all parties."

Chris Korby, executive director of the California Authority of Racing Fairs, also wants to analyze numbers to measure the impact of the doubleheader.

"I applaud Dave Elliott and Cal Expo for having the entrepreneurial spirit to try something unique," he said. "From the public's perspective, trading a Friday evening for a Monday afternoon makes sense."

Elliott said that another thing he will look at next year is aligning the first post on the night session closer to the first post at Del Mar, since evening racing in Sacramento is no problem because the track is lighted.

Australian wagering offered

The State Fair imported a racing signal from Australia four days last week and will do so again this week, starting Thursday night. Elliott said Australian wagering handled $500,000 in northern California last week.

Under a recently signed bill, California tracks can now import foreign racing at night.

Trainer race: Lenzini leads Barana

Michael Lenzini and Leo Barana have the lead in the State Fair's trainer competition. Lenzini leads Thoroughbred trainers with 77 points, based on 2 points, up to 24, for each starter and 6-3-2-1 points for first- through fourth-place finishes.

Dennis Hopkins is second among Thoroughbred trainers with 68 points.

Barana leads in the non-Thoroughbred category with 45 points, 11 more than Dave Montgomery in second place.

Place horses impressive in stakes

Things went as expected in the weekend stakes as odds-on favorite Yougottawanna won the Governor's Handicap and heavily favored Jet West won the Earlene McCabe Derby.

As well as the winners ran, the runners-up, Sanger in the Governor's and Bailey's Yodeler in the McCabe, were nearly as impressive, each with a pacesetting effort.

Bailey's Yodeler, a $6,250 claimer this year, set fractions of 21.18 and 43.37 seconds before being caught by the talented Jet West. But Bailey's Yodeler did not give way easily and was a clear second, matching the worst finish in his seven-race career, which includes five victories.

HRTV adds fair replay show

Horse Racing TV has added a replay show for the northern California fairs. The 24-hour television network will show the replays in the morning at 8:30 a.m. Pacific.

Korby of the CARF said the authority is pleased with the additional exposure HRTV is providing.

"We're happy to have the new national exposure for our signal," he said.

Fresno stables opening

Although the summer fair season ends on Labor Day, CARF still has the Big Fresno Fair, which begins Oct. 6. Stables at Fresno open Sept. 9, and Korby said CARF is already on site, preparing the track.

A new VIP lounge is under construction in the grandstand and will house Fresno's new satellite setup. Finishing touches are being added to the paddock, and new wash racks and an underground drainage system have been installed on the backstretch.