08/11/2010 12:15PM

Ferndale takes turn in spotlight


HUMBOLDT COUNTY FAIRRACING SCHEDULE: 8 days (Aug. 13-22, dark Aug. 16-17)POST TIME: 2:07 p.m.; 3:07 p.m. FridaysHIGHLIGHTS: Aug. 21, $10,000 Les Mademoiselle; Aug. 22, $15,000 Humboldt County MarathonADMISSION: $7 to fair, $5 62 and up; $3 racing admission; free fair admission Aug. 13PARKING: $2LOCATION: 1250 Fifth St., Ferndale, Calif.PHONE: (707) 786-9511INTERNET: www.humboldtcountyfair.org

By Chuck Dybdal

For the first time, the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale, Calif., will be the only game in town for bettors – at least next week, when it will not run overlapped with another Northern California track for the first time in its history.

Ferndale opens Friday, and for the first three days runs concurrent with the Santa Rosa meet. But for the final five days of the meet, there will be no competition for the betting dollar in Northern California.

The calendar as proposed by the California Authority of Racing Fairs had Golden Gate Fields opening one week early and overlapping Ferndale’s dates. But the California Horse Racing Board pushed back the start of the Golden Gate Fields summer meet to Aug. 25, giving Ferndale a week to itself.

Stuart Titus, who has spent much of his 20-year tenure as the fair’s general manager campaigning for unoverlapped dates, is excited by the “fantastic opportunity.” Still, with the meet comprising races mostly for lower-level claiming Thoroughbreds, mules, and Arabians, Ferndale doesn’t generate the handle of the major California meets.

Trainers come to Ferndale to race, with many horses running twice during the brief meet. Among the trainers at the meet are Billy Morey and Robert Beckner, the leading trainer at Grants Pass three of the past four years.

Jockeys James Wooten Jr. and Nikeela Black, second and third behind Matt Garcia in last year’s rider standings, will be back.

All six Thoroughbred races on Friday’s opening day card have full fields of eight, with also-eligibles in three of the races.

Racing secretary Tom Doutrich has carded six Thoroughbred stakes races with two mule and two Arabian stakes during the eight-day meeting. Highlight of the meet is the closing-day $15,000 Humboldt County Marathon, a 1 5/8-mile race in which horses cross the finish line four times on the half-mile track.

Trackman Steve Wood has overseen preparation of Ferndale’s dirt oval.