05/29/2013 1:37PM

Santa Rosa's Sonoma County Fair breaks ranks from California Authority of Racing Fairs


Although the 2013 Northern California su mmer fair racing schedule has a familiar look, a major change has taken place behind the scenes.

The Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa has withdrawn from the California Authority of Racing Fairs umbrella and will run as a separate entity.

CARF and Sonoma signed a separation agreement April 2, and the fair’s application for race dates was approved May 23 by the California Horse Racing Board. Sonoma County Fair manager Tawny Tesconi said a great deal of thought over the past two years went into the decision, which she said was ultimately an economic one.

She noted an increase in the CARF costs that were passed on to the fair. CARF organizes racing at the fairs, performs administrative work, helps with track maintenance, and distributes purses.

Tesconi said the Sonoma County Fair has been considering withdrawing from CARF for several years.

“We discovered we can do this on our own and save money,” she said. “We asked CARF to reduce expenses, and they were unable to do that.”

CARF executive director Chris Korby said: “They told us they could do it more efficiently on their own. They told us they had everything covered.”

Purses on the fair circuit have been standardized over the past two years as the fairs were treated as one overall meeting rather than a series of individual meets. Korby said the consolidated purse structure has helped the fairs by keeping purses consistent through business ups and downs.

Tesconi conceded that CARF did provide advice and equipment for track maintenance, but she said the fair staff handled maintenance on the turf course and could maintain the main track as well. She also has reached an agreement with a tractor distributor for use of tractors at the upcoming meet.

She said the fair has seen some unexpected expenses, but that some budget items “cost less” than anticipated.

Richard Lewis, director of racing, said that Santa Rosa’s purses would be slightly lower1 than at other stops on the fair circuit this year, but would remain higher than purses for similar races at Golden Gate Fields. He said the fair would offer a condition book similar to last year’s.

Lewis also said that the fair would run one fewer stakes race than last year and trim the purse of another, saving $100,000. Eliminated is the $75,000 Wine Country Debutante for 2-year-old fillies, and the Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes will be worth $50,000, rather than the $75,000 of last year. He said Santa Rosa will run six stakes, all overnight stakes with purses of $50,000 and a California-bred bonus of $15,000.

The meet will run two fewer days than last year, opening on Friday, July 26, and closing Sunday, Aug. 11. Santa Rosa will race Friday-Sunday the first week and Wednesday-Sunday the final two weeks. It will offer simulcast wagering on July 24-25. Friday first post time will move to 3:15 p.m. from the daily 1:15 p.m. to match up better with Del Mar, which has a 4 p.m. first post on Fridays.

Campanile draws seven

Seven have been entered in Saturday’s $100,000 Campanile Stakes for 3-year-old California-bred fillies going a mile on turf.

The field includes three stakes winners: Unusual Way, who won the Wine Country Debutante at Santa Rosa last summer as well as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Stakes Preview; Qiaona, winner of the California Breeders’ Championship; and Warren’s Veneda, who graduated in the Alphabet Kiss on April 27 at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Rounding out the field are Miz Strawberry Dee and Adriatic Sky, each coming off a maiden win; Life Is a Stone, coming off a nice allowance turf win here; and Jaz Unlimited, a stablemate of Unusual Way, who has a turf win in a maiden claimer here.

◗ Summer Hit, who won Monday’s Grade 3 All American Stakes here, will likely race next in Southern California, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. A one-time $12,500 maiden claimer, the 4-year-old Summer Hit has won three of his four stakes tries this year and finished second in the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile.