08/17/2009 12:00AM

Full fields a trademark of Ferndale racing


The bullring track with unbanked turns can make for some wild racing at the Humboldt County Fair, but Northern California horsemen come to Ferndale to run

Through the three days of the meet, which began Friday, 13 of the 19 Thoroughbred races had full fields.

Racing secretary Tom Doutrich said Sunday's $25,000 Humboldt County Marathon is shaping up nicely, and there may be enough interest in the 1 5/8-mile event to include a second race at this distance on the card.

James Wooten Jr. bolted to an early lead in the jockey standings with a pair of opening-day wins and three Saturday, in addition to a victory in a mule race. Wooten's book is being handled by last year's riding champion, the now-retired Danny Boag, who won eight Ferndale titles.

Injured riders recuperating

Leslie Mawing and Roberto Gonzalez, who sustained serious injuries this past spring at Golden Gate Fields, are recovering well.

Mawing, 35, and his wife became parents for the third time last week with the birth of Jade Molly in Idaho, where Mawing has begun early physical therapy on his left leg. He sustained compound fractures of the tibia and fibula when Pasta Time ducked into the rail on the Golden Gate Fields turf course on April 1.

"I've started physical therapy, building up my quad and my calf," Mawing said. "We're waiting for the bone to heal, but it is a five-to-six-month healing process. I saw the doctor, and he said the bone is regenerating nicely."

Mawing is "chomping at the bit" to get back, and he watches races daily. His 3-year-old son watches with him and cheers for his father to win each race.

"I picked up a lot of nice business when I was in California," said Mawing, who was looking at houses to make a full-time move to California before the accident. "Hopefully, when I come back, they won't forget me."

Gonzalez, 54, sustained a broken C2 vertebrae in his neck and broken left heel when Free Runnin, a 2-year-old making her debut in a two-furlong race on April 29, lost action in her rear legs and went down.

Gonzalez said he had never had a horse do that and didn't have much time to think about his fall. He did land on his feet before tumbling over onto his neck.

He had to wear a halo for three months to stabilize his neck, calling it the most uncomfortable and painful thing he has had to endure as a rider. His heel has healed, but his knees still give him pain.

He said the C2 fracture could very easily have left him paralyzed but that he was lucky to avoid both paralysis and surgery that was originally considered for the fracture.

Gonzalez owns a ranch in Brentwood, Calif., where he can stable 25 to 50 horses.

He is able to go to the ranch now to look at the rehabbing runners and said: "The horses are helping me. There are some here that I've won stakes on and others that I won other races on. I like to spend time with them and feed them. I tell them we'll be back at the track together before long."

Stakes are Antongeorgi's specialty

William Antongeorgi III is making his mark in fair stakes this summer.

With his victory aboard Unbridled Meeting in Saturday's CARF Debutante, he has five stakes wins, picking up one at each stop on the fair tour.

"Every horse [I've ridden] in the stakes have been firing," said Antongeorgi, the fair circuit's leading stakes rider.

He won the Sweepida with Kaweah Princess at Stockton, the Alamedan aboard Sierra Sunset at Pleasanton, the Vacaville with defending champ Kalookan Dancer at Solano, and the Cavonnier with Our Minesweeper at Santa Rosa.