About the California Authority of Racing Fairs
With a century of history behind horse racing at county fairs in the state of California, the fair racing industry continues to look to the future. The fairs have not forgotten their roots of encouraging agricultural and the breeding of horses, presenting the industry to customers of tomorrow, and providing for the maximum expansion of horse racing opportunities on behalf of the State.
Horse racing at California's county and district fairs are rich in tradition and history. With its roots established long before the turn of the century, horse racing and fairs have been synonymous over the years. Since the legalization of parimutuel wagering in 1933, fair racing has gone through many changes and evolved into what we know it to be today.
Our past has been such a long and storied one. Legendary horses, trainers and jockeys have competed on the fair circuit. A few of the stellar performers have included Eclipse Award winner Brown Bess, Big Jess, Damage Control, Hoedown's Day and Norfolk. Past and present jockeys' such as Mel Lewis, Merlin Volzke, Johnny Longden, Bill Shoemaker, and Russell Baze have enjoyed success at California fair tracks.
In 1997, the fairs continuied to build on the success of the prior year's popular and innovative idea designed to pay a purse to all horses that enter and start in a race at each fair. Every horse owner was paid a "Performance Purse" of $100.00 (besides the customary purse) through the paymaster account. The program has proved to be a success because not only has field sizes increased but the "Performance Purse" was able to assist an owner with the additional costs associated with running at the fairs.
The fairs also continued their practice of awarding horse owners by paying a purse through the 8th place finisher in each race. This has proved to be a popular practice among the horsemen because not only does it reward an owner financially, but it adds to the excitement of where their horse places in a race.
The live racing fairs continued efforts relating track safety and facility improvements for the equine and human participants. New inner rails were installed at both Stockton and Ferndale.