07/12/2011 1:42PM

Pleasanton: Despite fewer days, handle rises at Alameda County Fair

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Less may be more for the Northern California fair circuit.

The Alameda County Fair cut two days from its schedule, running 13 days this year after running 15 days last year.

Just as the San Joaquin Fair, which opened the fair circuit, showed an increase in its handle this year, the Alameda County Fair showed improvement as well.

The fair’s daily all-source handle, including satellites, out-of-state, and advance deposit wagering, increased 18 percent, averaging $1,459,837 this year compared with $1,240,774 in 2010. The 2011 overall total handle also exceeded the 2010 numbers with $18,977,889 wagered this year compared with $18,611,614 for 2010, an increase of 2 percent.

The ontrack handle for live races showed an 18 percent increase with $393,965 wagered on a daily basis this year compared with $333,179 in 2010. Despite two fewer days, the track finished with a higher overall total handle for 2011 with $5,121,552 compared with $4,997,692 in 2010, a rise of 2.5 percent.

The Northern California total, including satellite facilities, also showed an impressive daily increase of 17.5 percent with an average total of $1,388,369 compared with $1,182,087 in 2010.

The San Joaquin Fair offered free admission this year, and the Alameda County Fair did not run when Hollywood Park was dark this year.

Hess mulls options with Sherman Bartlebort

Trainer Bob Hess finds himself in a similar position as Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Both have impressive 2-year-old Cal-breds and face decisions on where to run next.

The Hess-trained Sherman Bartlebort won the Everett Nevin Alameda County Futurity with an impressive wire-to-wire performance just as the Hollendorfer-trained City Route dominated the Juan Gonzalez the previous week.

City Route is undefeated and beat colts in the Lost in the Fog at Golden Gate Fields. Sherman Bartlebort ran second in his debut but came back with a solid victory and then the Nevin win.

Hess confessed after the race, “The truth is, I didn’t think we could beat Galex”

As it turned out, Galex finished second as the favorite, beaten 2 1/4 lengths.

Sherman Bartlebort ran second to Sold Short, who finished second in the Lost in the Fog and fifth in the Nevin in his debut.

“The first time, he didn’t break sharp,” said Hess, who owns a piece of the colt with James Eaton, Peter Finch, and David Perea. “The trainer didn’t do a good job of getting him ready.

“He got everything his own way,” said Hess, referring to Saturday’s race. “I think we just got lucky, but I would rather be lucky than smart any day.”

Francisco Duran has been aboard Sherman Bartlebort in each start, and said, “He’s getting better every time.”

Hess now faces a decision. He can check out the Cal-bred races at Del Mar or point to the Cavonnier at Santa Rosa. And, further down the line is the $75,000 Charlie Palmer at 1 1/16 miles at Fresno.

Excessive Passion may switch to turf

Excessive Passion, winner of the Sam J. Whiting last weekend, could make his next start in the Jess Jackson Handicap, a five-furlong turf stakes at Santa Rose on Aug. 6. He won the Harry Henson in his turf debut last year.

Ain’t No Other, this year’s Henson winner, blitzed the field last week in the Livermore Valley Wines Stakes for 3-year-olds and might also consider the Jess Jackson. He’s a Cal-bred, however, which means trainer Steve Miyadi may also be checking the Del Mar stakes schedule for Cal-breds.

Trainer Jeff Bonde last week suggested that he would consider the Jess Jackson for his stakes-winning Road Ready, who was fourth behind Ain’t No Other in the Livermore Valley Wines.

It may be back to the drawing board for trainer Steve Sherman, whose Goggles McCoy was worn down early in the blistering Whiting pace battle, but he suggested before the race that he might like to put the son of outstanding turf stallion In Excess on the grass.

Trainers will be allowed to choose their weight for the Jess Jackson.

Hollendorfer has potent pair eligible for State Fair

One dozen fillies and mares were nominated for Saturday’s $75,000 California State Fair Fillies and Mares Sprint.

Hollendorfer nominated his multiple stakes-winning U R All That I Am and 3-year-old Whispering Express, who has won three straight since joining his barn this year.

Bud Klokstad also nominated a pair of 3-year-olds, Special Holiday, coming off a victory in Stockton’s Pink Ribbon, and Windy Sails, who was the runner-up in the Golden Poppy at Golden Gate Fields this year.

Other stakes winners nominated were the Chuck Jenda-trained Summers Peace, who just won the Washington Legislators at Emerald Downs; Strawberry Tart, and Perfect Curls.