10/02/2005 11:00PM

Fair gets four days of racing all to itself


FRESNO, Calif. - Thanks to a revision to the racing calendar, the Big Fresno Fair, which opens its meet Wednesday, will be the only game in northern California for 4 of its 11 days of racing.

In the past, Fresno and Bay Meadows overlapped for four days. But this year, Fresno will present the only live racing in northern California on the next two Wednesdays and Thursdays.

"It's fantastic," director of racing Dan White said. "We're waiting to see how the days go."

White is optimistic the elimination of four days of overlap will lead to increased field size.

"I think it will help fill fields," he said. "I hope trainers will ship here, fill our cards, and help promote our sport. With full fields, everyone wins, and the races are more enjoyable for everybody."

The meet includes two Thoroughbred stakes races, the $40,000-added Harvest Futurity for 2-year-olds at six furlongs on Oct. 13 and the $50,000-added Bulldog for 3-year-olds at one mile on closing day, Oct. 16. In addition, two Arabian stakes, two mule stakes, and a Quarter Horse stakes will be run. The purse for the Harvest Futurity was boosted by $10,000 from last year.

The Big Fresno Fair, which has renovated its track and paddock in recent years, painted its barns during the off-season. In addition, the toteboard and grandstand have been painted and murals added to the paddock. The track has added a grass strip inside the main track and planted 30 olive trees in the infield.

To encourage more entries, a truck and trailer will be given the top trainer, with a variety of other contests for trainers, jockeys, and grooms.

On Thursday, the California Horse Racing Board will hold its regularly scheduled meeting at the fair for the first time.

At a glance: Fresno

RACING SCHEDULE: 11 days - Oct. 5-16 (dark Oct. 11)

POST TIME: 1:15 p.m. (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday), 1:30 p.m. (Friday), 12:37 p.m. (Saturday, Sunday)

HIGHLIGHTS: Oct. 13 $40,000-added Harvest Futurity; Oct. 16 $50,000 Bulldog

ADMISSIONS: Free with fair admission ($8 adults, $7 seniors); Clubhouse $5; Reserved seating $4

PARKING: $5 general, $6 preferred

LOCATION: 1121 S. Chance Ave., Fresno, CA

SIMULCASTING: Daily except Tuesday.

PHONE: (559) 650-3247

INTERNET: www.fresnofair.com