After ruling a wine empire for 20 years, Jackson turned his attention to the sport of kings, going on a $200 million spending spree to build a thoroughbred breeding operation in Kentucky and Florida.
When he was hoodwinked by horse traders, Jackson — who as a boy saw Seabiscuit win at Bay Meadows — went on a one-man crusade to reform the industry, getting legislation passed banning undisclosed commissions in horse sales.
In 2007, he became majority stakeholder in the racehorse Curlin, who then won Horse of the Year for two consecutive years. His filly, Rachel Alexandra, was the first filly to win the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in 85 years and also won 2009 Horse of the Year.
What happens next to Jackson's empire is uncertain. His family said it is committed to keeping the company as a central force in Sonoma County.
"We're interested in preserving our family business," Banke said in an interview last month.
His son-in-law, Don Hartford, had been serving as chief executive officer of the company. The company disclosed a succession plan in March, announcing that president Rick Tigner would be transitioning into the position of CEO. Hartford and Banke will oversee the family's interests on the board of directors.
In addition to Banke, he is survived by his five children, Jennifer Jackson Hartford, Laura Jackson-Giron, Katherine Jackson, Julia Jackson and Christopher Jackson, and two grandchildren.
Information on services was unavailable Thursday.
In lieu of flowers, the family requested donations to five organizations: Family Justice Center Sonoma County, 600 Administration Dr., Room 103-J, Santa Rosa, CA 95403; Redwood Empire Food Bank, 3320 Industrial Dr., Santa Rosa, CA 95403; Boys & Girls Clubs Central Sonoma County, P.O. Box 7460, Santa Rosa, CA 95407; Racetrack Chaplaincy of America, 2365 Harrodsburg Road, Suite A120, Lexington, KY 40504; and Belmont Child Care Association, Gate 6, 2150 Hempstead Turnpike, Elmont, NY 11003.
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