08/26/2004 12:00AM

Timonium: Eight days at state fair

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Racing returns to the Timonium Fairgrounds on Saturday for an eight-day meet during the 123rd Maryland State Fair.

The five-eighths-mile oval, which opened in 1887, will be the site of a 10-race live card opening day, next Saturday, and Labor Day. Nine live races will be held on the next two Sundays and next Wednesday through Friday. There is no racing Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 30-31.

First post time is 1 p.m. Eastern.

The meet is highlighted by a pair of $50,000 stakes for Maryland-breds, the Alma North for fillies and mares Sept. 4, and the Taking Risk for colts and geldings Sept. 6.

Co-featured on the opening day card are a pair of optional claiming races worth $25,000 apiece, one at four furlongs and the other at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Travis Dunkelberger, the leading rider at last year's meet with 14 wins, is expected to compete, along with Maryland regulars Steve Hamilton, Erick Rodriguez, and Jozbin Santana, plus Charles Town-based riders Larry Reynolds, Anthony Mawing, and Mark Rosenthal.