11/20/2016 9:14PM

Espinoza, Miller complete three-win day with Solid Wager in Cary Grant

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Benoit & Associates
Solid Wager, under Victor Espinoza, goes from last to first to win the Cary Grant for the second time.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Jockey Victor Espinoza and trainer Peter Miller both completed hat tricks on Sunday at Del Mar when they combined to win the $100,690 Cary Grant Stakes with Solid Wager, who rallied from last to first in the eight-horse field to win the Grant, for older California-bred sprinters, for the second straight year.

 Solid Wager ($7.60) got a pace to his liking, and a rider who understands that rushing Solid Wager is counterproductive. After the leaders went the opening quarter-mile in 22.24 seconds and half-mile in 45.07 in the seven-furlong race, Solid Wager rallied four paths wide on the turn, came calling for the lead, and outfinished Grazen Sky to win by a half-length in 1:22.51 on the fast main track.

 Acceptance was another half-length back in third and was followed, in order, by Gold Rush Dancer, favored Magic Mark, Tough But Nice, Image of Joplin, and Tengas Ransom.

 Solid Wager had not won since last year’s Grant, but this was the first time he had sprinted at Del Mar since then, and it was only his third start since returning from a six-month layoff, owing to an ankle chip earlier this year.

 “At first I was cussing Victor, wondering why he was so far back. What’s he doing?” Miller said. “Then he winds up with this amazing move. And what can you say about Victor? There’s a reason he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame one day.”

 The win was the seventh in 30 starts for Solid Wager, 5, a gelding by Birdonthewire who is owned by a partnership headed by Gary Barber. He earned $57,000 on Sunday to bring his career earnings to just shy of $430,000.

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 “I’ve had this horse since he was a 2-year-old, so it’s a lot of fun and great to win this race back-to-back,” Miller said.

 “I wish there were more seven-eighths Cal-bred races for this horse,” Miller said. “They obviously went fast enough, and he has a tremendous three-eighths of a mile run.”

 Espinoza said Solid Wager is “the kind of horse that wants to do things his way.”

 “He doesn’t want to be rushed or pushed,” he said. “I know him and I know what to do.”