06/22/2008 11:00PM

Fair season gets revamped schedule


PLEASANTON, Calif. - There's a new look to the summer fair racing season this year, with a revised schedule and a return of Thoroughbred racing to the California State Fair in Sacramento.

The San Joaquin County Fair in Stockton had been the starting point for the fair season in recent years, but this year its dates have been moved to September, and the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton will start the fair season.

Thoroughbred racing returns to the California State Fair for the first time since 2004 after a three-year experiment with harness racing.

Tom Doutrich, the racing secretary for all the fairs, is satisfied with the fields for the first two days of racing at Pleasanton, which begins its meet Wednesday. The opening-day feature, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, includes several stakes runners.

Doutrich's first major concern is that only 10 runners were nominated for Saturday's $50,000 Alamedan Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that had been run on the meet's closing day in the past. Doutrich will have to work hard to get more than the four runners that participated in the race last year.

The Alamedan and Sunday's $50,000 Everett Nevin, now a race for 3-year-olds rather than 2-year-olds, are part of a new stakes schedule that Doutrich has put together for the fairs.

He's changed the dates of some races and eliminated others. Another move was to extend the Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes, to be run Aug. 3 at Santa Rosa, from 5 1/2 furlongs to six.

All stakes, with the exceptions of those at tiny Ferndale and the State Fair, will have purses of $50,000, with additional money available to California-breds. Both State Fair stakes, the 1o1/8-mile Governor's Handicap and the California State Fair Sprint, are worth $75,000.

Fairs to feature series for claimers

Doutrich also has plans for a new starter series similar to the popular Triple Play Series inaugurated at Bay Meadows, where Doutrich served as racing secretary this spring.

The CARF Three-Track Triple Play - named for the California Authority of Racing Fairs - will be for $6,250 claimers. The first leg is scheduled for the San Mateo County Fair at Bay Meadows, followed by races at Sacramento and Stockton. Distances will be one mile, 1 1/8 miles, and 1 1/4 miles. Horses can be claimed in the first race, but the final two races will be run under starter allowance conditions. The finale will carry a $40,000 pot.

Doutrich has modified some of the rules that were used in the Triple Play Series. If a horse claimed from the first leg wins the final leg, as happened in the Triple Play Series, the original owner will receive a bonus of $6,250.

* Golden Gate Fields stewards fined trainer Cirilo Sierra $4,000 after Indian Weaver, second in the first race on April 11 at Bay Meadows, exceeded the regulatory threshold for clenbuterol, a bronchodilator. It was a Class 3 violation.