08/16/2004 11:00PM

Ferndale off to good start

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Despite more than half of its races being of the non-Thoroughbred variety, the Humboldt County Fair showed a 14 percent increase in handle through its first four days.

The fair's two marquee events come this weekend with the $10,000-added Les Mademoiselle Stakes/Don Harmon Memorial on Saturday and the $12,500-added C.J. Hindley Humboldt County Marathon on Sunday.

Fifteen fillies and mares were nominated to the 1 1/16-mile Les Mademoiselle. In Love With Loot, In Gold We Trust, and Mom Liked You Best, the one-two-three finishers in last weekend's 6 1/2-furlong Charlie Palmer, are expected to run. Soup n' Crackers, who has won three minor stakes in Oregon, is also expected.

The 1 5/8-mile Marathon drew 11 nominees. Argentine-bred Potri Cacho, who has a second and two thirds against allowance company since arriving in northern California from Florida, looms the one to beat.

* Gyrene, a hard-knocking 5-year-old mare who earned $171,502 in 25 starts for trainer John Anderson and owner Beatrice Nolan, has been retired with recurring ankle problems. The 5-year-old mare had 3 wins, 7 seconds, and 3 thirds and won at ages 3, 4, and 5.