12/31/2016 6:38PM

St. Joe Bay, Solid Wager dead-heat winners in Midnight Lute

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Benoit & Associates
Solid Wager and St. Joe Bay finished in a dead heat.

ARCADIA, Calif. - St. Joe Bay and Solid Wager finished in a dead heat for the win in Saturday’s $100,000 Midnight Lute Stakes for sprinters at Santa Anita. It is rare for stablemates to share a graded stakes win.

St. Joe Bay ($2.40) and Solid Wager ($4.60) are trained by Peter Miller, who also won two stakes at Santa Anita on Friday. St. Joe Bay races for David Bernsen and Miller’s Altamira Stable. Solid Wager is owned by Gary and Cecil Barber and Stanford Stable.

“I’m delighted for everyone involved,” Miller said in the winner’s circle. “I couldn’t call it and the stewards couldn’t either. Both horses ran super.”

St. Joe Bay was part of a speed duel with Navy Hymn and later Jimmy Bouncer, while Solid Wager closed from last in a field of five. St. Joe Bay set quick fractions of 21.47 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 43.57 for a half-mile. St. Joe Bay led by a head with a furlong to go and put away Tough Sunday in the final sixteenth before being joined at the wire by Solid Wager.

Kent Desormeaux rode St. Joe Bay, while Victor Espinoza was aboard Solid Wager. Desormeaux’s silks were relatively clean in the winner’s circle, while Espinoza’s colors were covered in mud. For Espinoza, the Midnight Lute was his final ride of the year. His remaining mounts on Saturday’s program were scratched.

Solid Wager was a 5-1 shot, while St. Joe Bay was even money. They were timed in 1:15.03 for 6 1/2 furlongs on a sloppy track. Tough Sunday finished third, while Jimmy Bouncer and Navy Hymn completed the order of finish.

Navy Hymn was vanned off after being pulled up while galloping out.

Solid Wager, a 5-year-old gelding by Birdonthewire, has won 8 of 31 starts and has earned $469,921. Solid Wager won the Cary Grant Stakes for California-bred sprinters at Del Mar in 2015 and again in November.

St. Joe Bay, a 4-year-old gelding by Saint Anddan, has won 4 of 20 starts and has earned $257,175. The Midnight Lute Stakes was his first stakes win and second consecutive victory. He won an optional-claimer at Del Mar on Dec. 4.
Dead heats by stablemates are rare in graded stakes. The most notable instance in Southern California occurred at Hollywood Park in 1990, when Beautiful Melody and Reluctant Guest, both trained by Richard Mandella, finished in a dead heat for first in the Grade 1 Beverly Hills Handicap.