Racing at the 77th Sonoma County Fair begins this afternoon and in the fourth event, a horse born and raised in Santa Rosa will be one of the favorites to win.
Jack Jack Jack's local roots go deep. His owners, Mr. and Mrs. Jack DeMeo, raised him at their farm on Occidental Road and he's trained by Santa Rosa resident Steve Specht.
Now a 3-year-old, Jack Jack Jack will be making his fifth start today. He's finished third once and also has a fourth place finish on his resume.
There's reason to believe the gelding will improve today. He's adding blinkers which usually keep a horse from looking around.
In his last race (July 7 at Pleasanton), he took himself back leaving the gate and never rallied. He was favored in the betting but was beaten 10 lengths and finished in front of only three horses.
“He's going to show more speed this time,” Jack DeMeo, a local attorney and honorary director of the fair board, said.
“He didn't try last time. This time, the blinkers will keep his mind on business. We're expecting a much-improved effort.”
Jockey Frank Alvarado has the return call aboard Jack Jack Jack.
The DeMeos love to win races in front of the home folks.
“I raced my first horse here 60 years ago when I was 19,” Jack said. “We've lived here all our lives, so when we run a horse, a lot of people are rooting for us.”
How did they come up with the name Jack Jack Jack?
“When my wife wants to get my attention and I'm doing something else that's how she calls me,” DeMeo said with a chuckle. Besides the DeMeo horse, Specht's other starters today are in the fifth race when he'll send out both Aninata and Vincee V.
In a change from years past, the first race on Fridays is 3:15 p.m. while the regular start time of 1:15 p.m. will be in effect on all other days.
Today is the first of 13 programs. This week, racing will continue Saturday and Sunday. The final two weeks of the meet, the races will be conducted Wednesdays through Sundays. A majority of the races between now and closing day will be for thoroughbreds but there also be occasional races quarter-horses, Arabians and mules.
Cavonnier is the most famous horse to come out of Sonoma County. He was beaten a nose in the 1996 Kentucky Derby.
Owned by the late Robert Walter, Cavonnier has a race named in his honor every summer at the fair. The Cavonnier Juvenile States will be contested on Aug. 11.
Russell Baze, who rode his 12,000th winner earlier this month, has five mounts today. The Hall of Famer will get into action the second race aboard Tahoe Flash.