Five turf races and the $50,000 Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes will be decided today when the curtain comes down on this summer’s racing season at the Sonoma County Fair.
“Turf racing is popular with the public and the horsemen,” director of racing Richard Lewis said. “With such an attractive program, we’re looking forward to a good turnout for closing day.”
The first grass race is the third where nine maiden claimers will compete. The 10th race, the final event of the meet, is also on the lawn and lured a field of eight.
The feature, which is at six furlongs over the main track, is named for the most famous horse bred in Sonoma County. Cavonnier missed winning the 1996 Kentucky Derby by a nose.
The gelding was bred and raised at Vine Hill Ranch in Forestville by his owners Robert and Barbara Walter.
This year’s renewal of the Cavonnier brings together a well-matched group of 2-year-olds. Stand and Salute, with a pair of Hall of Famers calling the shots in jockey Russell Baze and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, is the early favorite.
While youngsters will be in the spotlight today, Saturday’s top performer was the 8-year-old Gallant Son. The Kentucky-bred horse made his 2014 debut a winning one as he defeated Ain’t No Other by a head in the $56,910 Jess Jackson Owners Handicap.
“We keep trying to retire the horse, but he just keeps doing so well,” trainer Frank Lucarelli said. “He’s come back this year as good as ever.
“As long as he keeps running like this, we’ll keep him in training.”
Counting the $32,200 he picked up in the Jackson, Gallant Son now has career earnings of $552,278.
His victory Saturday was impressive. He ran five furlongs over the turf in :56 4/5 (two-fifths off the course record) and carried 119 pounds, while Ain’t No Other got in with a feathery 103.
Cristobal Herrera was aboard the winner and Ricardo Gonzalez handled the runner-up.
“We had a perfect trip,” Lucarelli said. “We were on the rail until the stretch and then came out for running room.”
Gallant Son and Ain’t No Other raced head-and-head down the stretch with the photo finish camera deciding the outcome.
Ain’t No Other was running in the Jackson for the fourth year in a row. He crossed the finish line first in 2011 and 2013 but was disqualified for causing interference in ’11.
Gallant Son returned $15.20 for a $2 win ticket.
Southern California invader Pure Tactics, the race favorite, finished last.