Hitting the Big Fresno Fair horse races? Here is the daily pick from Harris Ranch’s John Harris.

The ponies are back and Harris Ranch president and horse racing expert John Harris gives his “Hope I Break Even ‘Cause I Need the Money” Selections.

John Harris, president and chairman of Harris Farms – owner of the historic Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant – is the region’s preeminent horse racing aficionado.

It should come as no surprise, Harris Farms’ Horse Division is responsible for the breeding of 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome.


Two years ago, during the last installment of The Big Fresno Fair, Harris was kind enough to reflect on the impact of horse racing here in the San Joaquin Valley at our very own grandstand right here at The Sun.

In his Sun column, Harris pointed to the ties that make the sport so unique:

Perhaps the greatest element of horse racing is the melting pot of fans that are drawn to the grandstand. The stands are filled with folks of every income, education, and ethnic background.

They are drawn to it because they love to predict which is the fastest horse and have a joyous time doing it.

And just before post time, people with seemingly little in common strike up a camaraderie when quizzing each other with one key question.

“Who do you like in the next race?”

Every race day of The Big Fresno Fair, Harris will be supplying his pick of the day for you to use as you peruse through the grandstands.

As he dubs them, these are the “Hope I Break Even ‘Cause I Need the Money” selections.

They’re available here at The San Joaquin Valley Sun exclusively. Check back each night before a race day for his daily pick.

Friday · Oct. 8, 2021

It’s Opening Day of horse racing action at the Big Fresno Fair. Today’s pick comes in Race 4 of the day, a 5.5 furlong jaunt with a post time of 3:19 p.m

Harris’ pick: GRAZEN DEB

Harris’ comments: By excellent stallion, Grazen, this 3-year-old filly was bred by Jeanne Bowers and Vicky Polzin, both local veterinarians with connections to Harris Farms. May go off the favorite, but can win for fun.

Saturday · Oct. 9, 2021

After a win on Opening Day, Harris is back with a pick on Saturday’s Race 7, a six furlong jaunt with a post time of 4:55 p.m.


Harris’ comments: Should quit winners, but my pick is my venerable 6-year-old gelding, Fashionably Fast. He has won 8 of 24 lifetime starts, and $632,341, although only 1-for-7 this year.

Tiago Pereira, a top Southern California rider, originally from Brazil, is flying up to ride him; as is our long time trainer, Dean Pederson.

Fashionably may be over bet, but I hope he gets home in front. A homebred by Lucky Pulpit (also sire of California Chrome). He is co-owned by suburban Dos Palos oil magnate –my good friend – John Nicoletti.

We run another horse on Saturday, Reverend Al. Named for legendary TV Evangelist, Al Wyrick; he’s also by Lucky Pulpit, and trained by Debbie Winick. He has a prayer.

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