05/28/2014 1:51PM

Two new $100,000 stakes slated for Northern California fairs


Two new $100,000 stakes highlight the summer racing schedule at the Northern California fairs. A total of 19 stakes worth $1,145,000 will be run at six fair tracks.

The fair season begins June 19 with the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, which will be conducted for the first time by the Oak Tree Racing Association. The Pleasanton meet is highlighted by the $100,000 Oak Tree Handicap (formerly the Alameda County), a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that will be run June 21, and a new race, the $100,0000 Oak Tree Distaff, a six-furlong sprint for California-bred fillies and mares on June 28.

The other new $100,000 fair stakes is the Harris Farms Stakes on Oct. 5 at the Big Fresno Fair. The race is for California-bred 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs.

The Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa, which runs July 25-Aug. 10, has the most stakes among the fair stops. It will run seven stakes this summer, including the $50,000-added Wine Country Debutante for 2-year-old fillies, which returns after a one-year absence.

The last time the Wine Country Debutante was run, in 2012, it carried a $75,000 purse. The Wine Country Debutante will be run Friday, Aug. 8, making it the only non-weekend or holiday date on the stakes schedule. Santa Rosa also cut the purse for the Aug. 10 Cavonnier from $75,000 to $50,000.

California Authority of Racing Fairs racing secretary Tom Doutrich noted that the Oak Tree Distaff and the Harris Farms Stakes are for California-breds.

“It’s a long-term thing, and, hopefully, it sends a message that it’s a good time to breed horses,” he said.

Doutrich is hopeful that Southern California-based horses will come up for some of the stakes. He cited the Oak Tree Handicap as a likely target for such horses, noting that the race is about a month from the start of the Del Mar meet.

“For those racing at Del Mar, we believe they can come here and be off four to five weeks, which is about right for stakes horses,” he said.