Photo: Don August
The summer racing season is well into its 2013 schedule, having already run the Alameda County and Sacramento State Fair meets. Tomorrow, the 13-day meet at the Sonoma County Fair kicks off at Santa Rosa. This meet, however, will be looked at a little differently than any other in recent memory. At least by the people in the business.
In April, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Fair, got finalization that they would no longer be part of the California Authority of Racing Fairs (CARF). Instead of running under the CARF landscape, they asked for, and received permission to leave CARF and run as a separate meet. CARF still runs the meets at Pleasanton, Sacramento, Ferndale, Stockton and Fresno.
“This is something we have been looking at for the past couple of years,” said Santa Rosa Director of Racing Richard Lewis. “ We made inquiries to CARF about some of the things we were being billed for and never got a straight answer. The fair board and CARF were not on the same track.”
CARF was established to run the racing aspect of the summer fairs while each fair board dealt with all other aspects. Each fair pays an administrative fee to CARF, In return CARF does administrative work, track maintenance, and distributes the purses.
“It’s never good when divide happens, “ Lewis said. “But a lot of thought went into this. We felt we could do everything ourselves without paying the administrative fee and save some money. So far, we have everything set up.”
Most of the changes will not even be seen by the public.
The fair board brought in their own track crew, paymaster and racing secretary. That was three of the biggest things that CARF provided. They also eliminated one stake race, the $75,000 Wine Country Debutante (for 2 year old fillies) and decreased the Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes from $75,000 to $50,000. The two moves freed up $100,000.
What changes will the public see? Well, purse structure will be slightly lower than it was last year, if you pay attention to that sort of thing. Also they will be running two days less than last year. The daily handicapping seminars, that last year were run by Frank Mirahmadi and Mike Patrick, will now be run by Pleasanton racing publicist Dennis Miller and Daily Racing Form beat writer Chuck Dybdal.
Insiders will looking at this meet with interest to see if they can pull it off without any glitches. If it goes well, will over fairs follow suit next year? Stay tuned.
Highlighting of the meet will be six stake races. The Wine Country Stakes and Luther Burbank Handicap headline the first weekend, the Robert Dupret Derby and the Joseph T Grace Handicap on week two and closing week will end with the Jess Jackson Owners Handicap and the Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes. All stakes will be for a purse of $50,000.
The meet begins Friday July 26th and runs through August 11th with no racing on Mondays or Tuesdays.
Hollendorfer Pair favored in Stakes
A pair of Jerry Hollendorfer trainees will be featured in the opening weekend stake races. Life is a Stone with William Antongeorgi III is the 2-1 favorite in Saturdays Wine Country Stakes. The field of six also features Sweet Tess from the Keith Nations barn. Tess is 5-2 and coming off a 5 month layoff. On Sunday, Halo Dolly returns to the bay area and will open as the favorite for Russell Baze in the Luther Burbank Handicap.Two races back, Dolly won the Grade 3, Wilshire Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park.