10/04/2010 3:53PM

Fair regulars get rewarded with $25,000 series of races


FRESNO, Calif. – The Northern California fair circuit completes its 2010 racing season with a two-week stop at the Big Fresno Fair beginning Wednesday.

The two-week meeting, which includes Columbus Day holiday racing on Monday, is attracting good-size fields despite Golden Gate Fields carding a pair of 10-race cards last weekend.

On Wednesday, 75 runners signed up for nine races with 64 scheduled for Thursday’s eight-race card. The totals do not include runners on the also-eligible list, but field size for the first two days of the meet is 8.3 runners on Wednesday and an even eight Thursday.

The early cards have racing secretary Tom Doutrich feeling good about the opening weekend. Doutrich tries to card his best races on weekends so Fresno fans could have some good wagering opportunities coming up.

Doutrich is also pleased to end the year with three special races for the consistent types that have given the fairs good field sizes throughout the year.

The races, worth $25,000 each, are for runners who competed on the 2010 Northern California fair circuit or at Fairplex while running for an $8,000 claiming tag or less.

Fillies and mares meeting those conditions will compete in a six-furlong race on Friday, Oct.  15. Three-year-olds-and-up will compete at six furlongs the next day and at 1 1/4 miles on Sunday.

The closing-day card will also include three stakes races, the $50,000 Bull Dog at 1 1/8 miles, the Gold Cup for mules, featuring Bar JF Hot Ticket, and the Fresno Quarter Horse Futurity.

The $50,000 Harvest Festival, to be run this year for fillies and mares at six furlongs, will be contested on Sunday.

Trainers Steve Sherman and Billy Morey, who finished one-two, separated by only one victory, in the Golden Gate Fields summer meeting standings, will be running horses at the meet.

The jockey colony will also be strong with Emerald Downs champion rider Ricky Frazier competing, along with long-time Northern California rider Francisco Duran, who competed at Emerald this year and finished fourth in the standings. Pedro Torrero, who was sixth at Emerald, will also ride here.

Juan Hernandez and Leslie Mawing, third and fourth in the Golden Gate Fields rider standings, will also compete.