07/14/2010 5:15PM

Decision to cancel card yields larger fields at Pleasanton


Alameda County Fair CEO Rick Pickering took one for the team when he, somewhat reluctantly, requested and received permission from the California Horse Racing Board last Friday to cancel racing on Wednesday, July 7.

“We could have pushed to run that day,” he said, “but the Alameda County Fair is about being a good partner to racing, and this decision was made in the best interest of racing. It will help us have stronger cards the rest of the week and can help other fairs during this time when we have a low inventory of horses.”

Racing is the biggest attraction for any fair, and losing a day is painful – and costly. More than 100 people had Wednesday reservations for terrace seating.

“It affects our box-seat holders, people with reservations in our terrace seating, and named races,” Pickering said.

Pickering also pointed out that it hurts employees working at the track, not to mention the fair, which will incur lower attendance and decreased parking, admission, and concession revenues.

With no racing Wednesday, the fair reduced admission from $10 to $3.

The decision to cancel was made because entries were not strong for Wednesday and Hollywood Park was already scheduled to be dark following a six-day Fourth of July week,

The decision has paid off in improved cards.

Thursday’s nine-race program attracted 77 entries, including 65 runners in the seven Thoroughbred races. Four of the Thoroughbred races attracted full fields of 10, with two fields of eight and one of nine.

On Friday, 94 runners are entered on a 10-race card with at least eight runners in every race and four full fields of 10, with three of those races overflowing with also-eligibles.

On Monday, though, Pleasanton was rocked by the news that Hollywood Park was canceling its Thursday card, the second time that has happened during the fair season. Hollywood also canceled a Thursday card during Stockton. Handle at the fairs is lower on days when Southern California doesn’t race.

Longacres Mile possible for Run It

Even though Run It did not go off as the betting favorite, his victory in Sunday’s Alamedan Handicap could not be classified as unexpected.

Coming off a front-running victory in the Grade 3 Berkeley on May 31, the 4-year-old colt may have turned in an even better performance as he got his preferred stalking trip and blew past pacesetting Live Sundays to win the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:42.19. He won by 1 1/2 lengths. The third-place finisher, Slew the Man, was nine lengths farther back.

Run It, a Mercedes Stable homebred by Cherokee Run out of the Theatrical mare Tracy, is not the biggest colt on the track, but he’s one of the gamest.

“One thing about this colt, whatever plan you use, he executes it,” trainer Dennis Patterson said. “In his own way, he’s been an overachiever, not that he shouldn’t be a good horse with that breeding.”

Patterson said that when jockey Chad Schvaneveldt pulled the colt up following his victory in the Alamedan, another runner came up to him.

“He grabbed the bit and took off again,” Patterson said.

Run It has now won the Alcatraz Stakes on grass as a 3-year-old, the Berkeley on Tapeta, and the Alamedan on dirt.

Patterson said Run It is “getting better and better. His best year may be next year.”

Coming into the fair season, Run It was expected to run in the Alamedan and then the Joseph Grace on the turf at Santa Rosa, but Patterson said the owner’s racing manager has advised him that the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs is now being considered for the colt’s next start.

Warren’s Pepe, favored in the Alamedan despite two losses to Run It earlier this year, had to be pulled up and vanned off. He was subsequently euthanized.

The weekend’s other stakes winner, the Cliff Delima-trained Perfect Curls, came out of her Juan Gonzalez victory well.

She now has two wins and a second in her three-race career, and Delima says he’s confident she’ll improve as she goes farther.Delima plans to run her in the six-furlong Wine Country Debutante at Santa Rosa on Aug. 7.

Perfect Curls was coming off a front-running victory but settled nicely in what Delima says will be her normal running style. She unleashed a strong late kick to win the Juan Gonzalez.

First-time starter Sweet Baguette, a half-sister to Sourdough Sam, finished second. Both trainer Dean Pederson and jockey Russell Baze were pleased with her effort as she broke a step slow, was shuffled back, and had to be asked a bit sooner than Baze wanted.

Although she tired a bit, she dug in for second as Perfect Curls pulled away to a five-length victory.

◗ Racing secretary Tom Doutrich got only 10 nominees for both weekend stakes, the Everett Nevin for 2-year-olds on Saturday and the Sam Whiting sprint on Sunday. The intriguing question is whether trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will enter his unbeaten 3-year-old Golden Winner against older runners in the Sam Whiting, which is traditionally a tough race.