06/26/2005 11:00PM

No shortage of horses for opener


PLEASANTON, Calif. - Always one of the most popular stops on the northern California fair circuit, the Alameda County Fair begins its two-week run Wednesday with full fields and a variety of promotions geared to attracting new fans.

The meet runs for 11 days through July 10, with the only dark day July 5. Post time is 12:15 daily.

Eighty-seven runners signed up for Wednesday's 10 races, with six of the eight Thoroughbred races attracting at least eight horses, which allows for superfecta wagering.

Bob Moreno, the new racing secretary, did even better Thursday, filling the 10-race card with 102 entrants.

Wednesday's feature, at a mile and 70 yards, has nine fillies and mares running for a $20,000 claiming tag. will provide plenty of competition.

The Alameda County Fair features five stakes races: a pair of 2-year-old stakes on opening weekend, the Alameda County Fillies and Mares Handicap on July 4, and the Sam J. Whiting sprint and Alamedan Handicap on closing weekend.

One of the first things fans will notice after strolling by the grandstand is a view of a newly refurbished paddock instead of the old cinderblock jockeys' room.

"We've remodeled the jocks' room and offices, removing one-third of the building," said Rick Pickering, Alameda County Fair CEO and the director of racing. "Fans can now see into the paddock when they walk in front of the grandstand, and we have some picnic tables set up there now."

In addition, the barn area has undergone major changes to meet the California Horse Racing Board testing, security, and surveillance standards. A leader in the use of solar energy, the fair has also upgraded solar panels on top of the barns.

The track will continue its popular win-place-show promotion in which fans deposit slips in boxes corresponding to post positions for the eighth race. A ticket is selected from each box, and the ticketholder gets $300 if his horse wins, $200 for second, and $100 to show.