Updated on 09/17/2011 10:55AM

Viability is fair question at fairgrounds

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VALLEJO, Calif. - When people talk about the Solano County Fair, which begins a two-week run Wednesday, one question inevitably is asked.

How long will racing continue there?

Fair general manager Kim Myrman feels a lot like Mark Twain when she hears the question. Twain, who once quipped that reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated, provides Myrman some inspiration in answering the question.

"We're in racing until we're not," she said.

Myrman understands that the question is legitimate. Attendance and handle at the fair are usually small, and the fairgrounds is located in a prime area for possible development.

"We're continuing to work on plans for redevelopment of the fairgrounds," Myrman said. "Once we work out various and sundry agreements, we're probably looking three or four years down the road. We'll probably be racing through 2007."

The possibility remains that Solano's dates could be run at a different site in the future. With plans to add turf courses in Santa Rosa and Pleasanton, either of those tracks might be interested in additional dates.

Myrman does not believe Solano would be willing to run its dates at a different location, although she does not rule it out completely.

"Our board of directors is committed to racing," she said.

Improvements have been made to the backstretch area since last year.

Barns have been painted and stalls improved, some converted to living quarters. In addition, there has been grading of the ground in the barn area, improving the footing for the horses.

"We're continuing to face challenges," Myrman said. "We're trying to do the best we can to make sure the physical plant is in good shape.

"As long as we're in the business of conducting races, we want to put on the best production we can. That's one of the reasons we're interested in improving our backstretch area.

"The track is in awesome shape. We're hearing kudos about the track from all the trainers here."

More than 650 horses were on the grounds a week before the opening of the meet.

"We had strong fields last year, which is another reason why we're paying so much attention to the backstretch," Myrman said. "We're expecting good fields this year."

Wednesday's 11-race card drew 112 entries, including a field of seven for the day's feature race, a $25,000 claimer at one mile. J. Harmon may try to steal the race on the front end. But Tonco looks like the one to beat.

The track is continuing the California fair circuit's Seabiscuit bobblehead giveaway, on July 19, as well as running a popular win-place-show promotion daily.

At a glance: Solano County Fair (Vallejo)

ADDRESS: Address: 900 Fairgrounds Dr.

PHONE: (707) 551-2000

DATES: July 9-20 (dark July 14, 15)

FIRST POST: 12:15 p.m.

FAIR/RACE ADMISSION: $7 adults, $4 seniors and children

PARKING: $6

KEY STAKES: July 19 - Fairfield Stakes (3 YO fillies, 6 furlongs) $40,000-added; July 20 - Solano County Juvenile Filly Stakes (2 YO Cal-bred fillies, 5_ (five one-half) furlongs) $50,000-added

INTERNET: www.scfair.com