07/31/2007 11:00PM

Turf getting a workout


SANTA ROSA, Calif. - With only four days remaining in the Sonoma County Fair meet, racing secretary Greg Brent is making full use of the turf course with four turf races scheduled Friday.

He has carded a pair of $25,000 maiden claiming sprints at five furlongs and two claiming races at one mile.

The day's nominal feature is a $12,500 claimer at one mile for fillies and mares, with Penny Power attempting to win her second straight over the course following a July 20 victory for the same tag and distance.

A full field of fillies and mares running for a $6,250 claiming tag will try to keep Watcher Knows from making it two in a row over the course.

Male maidens meet in one of the turf sprints in what appears a wide-open race, while fillies and mares meet in an equally contentious maiden sprint in the day's final race.

First day without the fair

The Sonoma County Fair had its first day of racing without the fair on Wednesday.

A scattering of fans filled the grandstand seats. Parking and admission to the fairgrounds and the racetrack were free Wednesday and will be free all week. Attendance at the daily seminar was about one-third to one-half attendance when the fair was running. Attendance could improve Thursday when the track gives away insulated coolers.

Wednesday's first race, for Arabians, handled $5,655 ontrack, which was nearly exactly the ontrack handle for the first race Monday, also an Arabian race, when the fair was still running.

Not having a fair surrounding the racing is not hurting entries. An average of 8.8 runners a race have been entered for this Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Last week during those four days, the track averaged 8.2 runners per race.

* Fourteen runners, including defending champion Now Victory, were nominated for Saturday's $50,000 Joseph T. Grace Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The nominees also include My Creed, who has two stakes victories this year.