San Mateo County fair, horse racing will go on

The San Mateo County Fair, threatened by the possible closure of Bay Meadows Race Course, will go on as scheduled in 2008 thanks to last month’s approval of continued racing at the racetrack, which will generate more than $500,000 in betting revenue to fund the fair.

But unlike previous years, dates for horse racing and the fair may not coincide.

Either way, officials may have to wait until November to learn the schedule.

Last month, the state board granted the track’s request to waive a rule requiring the installation of a synthetic track surface in order to receive a license for racing in 2008.

The move effectively granted another year of racing and ensured that the 2008 San Mateo County Fair will go on as scheduled from Aug. 8 to 17, though it remains to be seen whether it will coincide with the racing dates, said Event Center General Manager Chris Carpenter.

The state board will probably release its race calendar in October or November, he added.

“It’s highly possible we will not run the race dates during the fair, which is fine. It’s not what we have traditionally done, but if those are the dates that are available for Bay Meadows, we’ll work with them,” Carpenter said.

If the racing dates don’t coincide with the county fair, “we’ll have two nice, separate events scheduled close to one another,” Carpenter said.

Bay Meadows is scheduled to be redeveloped into 1.25 million square feet of office space and 1,250 multi-family residential units beginning in 2009. After Bay Meadows closes, fair organizers will likely make a deal with another track to hold their allotted race days, just as the Solano County Fair did with Sonoma County this year.

San Mateo County Supervisor Jerry Hill said he wasn’t terribly concerned about the race dates falling on different days than the fair.

“Hopefully they’ll be able to accommodate the fair dates, but the revenue is what’s important, because it supports the fair we have every year,” he said.

tbarak@examiner.com

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