07/12/2009 11:00PM

Longtime racetracker gives training a whirl


Debbie Winick is a racing lifer, but she embarks on a new career in Wednesday's fourth race at Pleasanton when she sends out her homebred It'sthewinetalking as her first official starter as a trainer.

Winick, 53, the wife of former jockey Danny Winick and daughter of former jockey and trainer Albert Hillman, started ponying horses for her father when she was 9. She worked on the backside of racetracks until 1979 before doing a variety of jobs in Northern California, including paymaster of purses at Bay Meadows, special events, and working for the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association and Thoroughbred Times. She also prepared horses for the Barretts sales.

Although Wednesday's race, a five-furlong sprint for 3-year-old $16,000 claimers, is her first as a trainer, she saddled It'sthewinetalking to his June 21 victory at Stockton as Mark Ingebritson's assistant.

Winick will base her operations at Pleasanton. She has three of her own horses and will also race three runners that Ed Freeman is sending her from Southern California. She said she got a pony horse from a longtime family friend, the trainer Cliff Delima.

Winick intends to be "old school" as a trainer. "I will take my time," she said. "I'm not into rushing horses."

Fair enters experimental third week

Unchartered territory - Week 3 of the Alameda County Fair - gets under way Wednesday.

Only once has a fair run a third week of racing - Santa Rosa in 2007 - and Pleasanton will have an advantage in that its fair will continue to run this week. The third week of racing at Santa Rosa was conducted without the draw of the fair.

Santa Rosa offered free parking and admission its final week of racing in 2007 when it picked up a week traditionally assigned to the Solano County Fair.

Pleasanton's additional week means that Solano will run only one week this year, beginning a week from Wednesday.

Pleasanton has been holding its own, thanks to record fair attendance. Through the first 10 days of the fair, attendance is up 49 percent, according to fair CEO Rick Pickering. Attendance is 250,000, including an Alameda County Fair record of 50,000 on July 3.

Not everyone attending the fair goes to the races, but racing is an important draw, he said.

Fairs racing secretary Tom Doutrich said the Alameda County Fair has averaged more than eight runners a race.

The third week at Pleasanton will be viewed as something of an experiment, as the California Horse Racing Board as well as the Alameda County Board of Supervisors weigh the possibility of adding non-fair racing dates at the track in 2010 so that Golden Gate Fields does not end up conducting a 10-month meet, as it did from September 2008 to June 2009. Pleasanton would essentially take some of the dates formerly run at the now-closed Bay Meadows.

Because the track is on county property, the board of supervisors would have to approve the use of the site for racing.

Izzy Rules proves able substitute

Trainer Jeff Bonde's hot streak continued through the second week of the meeting when he sent out Izzy Rules to win the Juan Gonzalez Memorial just nine days after she won her debut.

Bonde had intended to run Gracie's Action in the Gonzalez, but she broke a sinus bone in a stall accident when she was frightened by a fireworks show.

Bonde decided to enter Izzy Rules because the seven-length win in her debut didn't seem to take much out of her.

"She never missed an oat," he said.

Izzy Rules took the lead out of the gate while heavily favored Washington Bridge was bumped around early and shuffled back.

"The difference ended up being the start. That was our one chance," Bonde said.

And when Washington Bridge finished fourth, there was one unhappy bridge-jumper but some happy show bettors. Izzy Rules, who paid $5.60 to win, returned $24.80 to show, Got An Itch $53.20, and Ringing Bernie $46.20.

Mule still streaking

Bar JF Hot Ticket extended her winning streak to 17 races and made it 24 wins in her last 25 starts with an easy wire-to-wire win at 870 yards Sunday in the Pleasanton Mule Championship.

She has not lost since Aug. 5, 2007, when Sarah Nelson, Sunday's runner-up, beat her at Santa Rosa.

Bar JF Hot Ticket, a 6-year-old mare bred by Dave Wood and trained by Ray Thomas, now has a 35-29-3-2 career record with $156,427 in earnings.

Sarah Nelson, a 10-year-old mare, is now 83-51-22-7 with $244,463 in earnings.