Horse racing returns to Cal Expo next Thursday on opening day of the State Fair.
The thoroughbreds - along with Arabians, quarter horses and mules - will be in action for eight days - July 12 through 15 and July 19 through 22 - during the first two weeks of the fair's run.
First post will be 1:45 p.m. Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays with a 3:45 p.m. first post on Fridays. A minimum of eight races will be run each day.
Fans can pick up coupons at any Cal Expo entry gate for a free program in the Miller Lite grandstand. For more details, see www.bigfun.org.
More than $1 million in purses will help draw horses from throughout California for the short meet. Patrons also will be able to wager on simulcast racing from Del Mar, Saratoga and other major tracks.
Meanwhile, plans are in the works to bring back harness racing in November. The Cal Expo board of directors has approved a term sheet outlining a proposed agreement with European Wagering Services, which would take over as operator of the harness meet.
Since 2008, Cal Expo has operated the harness meet itself. But in December, fair officials announced that they wanted an outside operator to assume the risks and provide the funding to market and grow the meet.
Since 2000, Cal Expo has been the only California track to host harness racing. The last harness meet wrapped up June 16.
"We are pleased that EWS has stepped forward to operate the harness racing meet here at Cal Expo," said Cynthia Bryant, chairman of Cal Expo's racing committee. "Our hope has always been that harness racing would continue at Cal Expo as it supports many jobs and greatly impacts the local economy."
A final contract still needs to be approved by the Cal Expo board. In addition, EWS must get approval from the California Horse Racing Board to operate a meet in this state. The CHRB also must approve race dates for Cal Expo.
Under the term sheet, the proposed dates will be Nov. 2 through May 11, 2013, with racing two to three nights a week.