Racing at the Sonoma County Fair begins Friday and it’s nervous time, as usual, for Steve Specht, one of Northern California’s top horsemen and a Santa Rosa resident.
“It’s the same every summer,” Specht said. “I still feel the pressure to do well at this meet.
“People we know around town follow my horses and I never want to disappoint them.”
Specht’s followers haven’t been disappointed often.
In the 27 years he’s been coming to the fair, Specht has been shut out just one time.
In recent years, his horses have done exceptionally well on opening day. He saddled three winners the first day of the 2012 meet and last year, he scored with Jack Jack Jack for local attorney Jack DeMeo.
Friday, Specht will have four runners in three races but he’s not brimming with optimism.
He’ll begin the afternoon by saddling Swiss Skimmer in the second race followed by the entry of Adriatic Son and Yahoo Tahoe in the third. He’ll conclude the day with Lumberman’s Arch in the seventh.
“I think my best chance is in the third race, although we probably need some luck,” he said.
“Yahoo Tahoe won his last and always seems to be close. Adriatic Son hasn’t been breaking well from the gate and he needs a good beginning to stand a chance.”
Adriatic Son started slow in his last race on June 4 at Golden Gate Fields and then fell over a fallen horse.
Swiss Skimmer will be making the third start of her career, all sprint races. She was well-beaten in her first two starts.
“She’s going to lay back and make one run,” Specht said. “She’s a big filly and wants to go longer distances.”
Lumberman’s Arch won a maiden race last September at Golden Gate and finished last at Boise racetrack in his only start this year.
“He’s not a good work horse but he ran OK for me in the afternoons last year,” Specht said. “Hopefully, he’ll put in a good effort opening day.”
The trainer is looking forward to later in the meet when he’ll be represented by runners in stakes races.
Sea Creature is being prepared for the $50,000 Robert Dupret Derby on Aug. 2 while Can Can Babe and Go to the Altar have the $50,000 Wine Country Debutante (Aug. 8) on their schedule.
Specht is having a solid year having saddled 26 winners.
His followers will be betting he adds to that total before this meet ends on Aug. 10.
Racing begins Friday, July 25 at 3:15 p.m. with the first of eight events.
On Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, the first post will be 1:15 p.m.
Healdsburg residents Mary and Sonny McPherson will be represented by Okie Pride Larry and Okie Pride Pete in the opener which is 330 yards for mules. The McPhersons owned the great Black Ruby.
The colors worn by the champion Zenyatta will be seen in the seventh race atop Fordham Road. Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss’ homebred is in for a $12,500 claiming tag. Steven Sherman trains.