Heavily favored St. Joe Bay shrugged off early pace pressure and a serious challenge a quarter mile from home while registering a 2 ¼ length win in Saturday's Grade II, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes under Kent Desormeaux. Trained by Peter Miller, the 5-year-old gelding got six furlongs in 1:08.75.
“There was a lot more pressure (on him) than I thought,” said Miller. When is saw that four-horse (eventual last place finisher, Ocho Ocho Ocho) hounding me in 21 and two, I was like geeez. But this horse is just so good right now he's got gears. When that gray horse (runner-up Moe Candy) came to him, I got a little concerned, but he had another gear.”
A winner of the Grade III Midnight Lute Stakes here on Dec. 31, St. Joe Bay was off at 3-5 in a field of four older horses and paid $3.40 and $2.20 (no show wagering).
“Well, there are certainly always anxious moments when you're coming into the stretch like that but fortunately for me, St. Joe Bay did all the work,” said Desormeaux. “He had about 70 yards where he had a nice breather. For me, it's just great to be on the Peter Miller team. He's firing bullets right now.”
Owned by Altamira Racing Stable and David A. Bernsen, St. Joe Bay, a Florida-bred gelding by Saint Anddan, got his third consecutive win Saturday and he now has an overall mark of 21-5-5-3. With the winner's share of $120,000, he now has earnings of $377,175.
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Moe Candy loomed ominously turning for home, but the winner found plenty more, relegating “Moe” to second, finishing 4 ¼ lengths in front of Ike Walker. Off at 6-5, Moe Candy paid $2.20 to place.
Fractions on the race were 21.48, 44.40 and 56.37.
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