Peter Miller celebrates the dead heat win of St. Joe Bay (Kent Desormeaux) and Solid Wager (Victor Espinoza) in the G3 Midnight Lute
Trainer Peter Miller is closing out 2016 on a major hot streak, and is racking up stakes wins at Santa Anita right and left. On Friday, he swept the two stakes races on the card, sending out Bad Ju Ju to win the Kalookan Queen and Vending Machine to take the Eddie Logan.
Miller did himself one better on Saturday when his trainees St. Joe Bay and Solid Wager wound up in a dead heat for the win in the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes.
Altamira Racing Stable and David Bernsen’s St. Joe Bay was sent off as the even money favorite for the 6 1/2-furlong race, which was contested over a sloppy Santa Anita surface. Sent to the lead soon out of the gate, St. Joe Bay was challenged throughout the early stages of the race with Navy Hymn and Jimmy Bouncer.
After finally putting those two challengers away, St. Joe Bay was joined by Tough Sunday and the two battled into the homestretch. With less than a furlong to go, St. Joe Bay finally shook off Tough Sunday, but then had to meet the challenge of his stablemate Solid Wager, who was closing strongly out in the center of the course.
The two geldings hit the wire together in a dead heat, with Tough Sunday another 1 1/4 lengths further back in third. Final time for the 6 1/2-furlong contest was 1:15.03.
“This is unbelievable,” Miller told reporters after the race. “Both horses ran super. Both riders rode super. I couldn’t call it and obviously, the stewards couldn’t either, so I’m just elated for everyone involved. Watching it live, I thought the two (Solid Wager) won, then when I watched the replay, I thought the three (St. Joe’s Bay) won, and when they put up the ‘DH,’ I didn’t know what to do!”
“The way the track is and the weather…I thought ‘Okay, I’ll get dirty and it could be an experience,’ but it’s my last race of the year so I’ll just go for it,” said Espinoza. “…It was awesome. When I crossed the wire I couldn’t tell but I was in front of him just a jump after. Kent thought he won right away, but I said ‘Hey, don’t be so sure.’ It’s not often this happens and to do it in a graded stakes for the same trainer?!”
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