Altamira Racing Stable and David Bernsen's St. Joe Bay continued his scorching streak through the Southern California sprint ranks with a game victory in the $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes (G2) Feb. 4 at Santa Anita Park.
After December victories in an allowance and in the Midnight Lute (G3), the Peter Miller-trained son of Saint Anddan again stepped up in the six-furlong Palos Verdes, was under pressure throughout, and held off a stretch-run challenge from Moe Candy to win by 2 1/4 lengths under jockey Kent Desormeaux.
St. Joe Bay set swift fractions of :21.48 and :44.40 through a half-mile, never more than a half-length ahead of grade 3 winner Ocho Ocho Ocho, but put away that challenger turning for home.
"That was a lot more pressure (on him) that I thought," Miller said. "When I saw (Ocho Ocho Ocho) hounding me in (:21 2/5), I was like, 'Geez.' But this horse is so good right now and he's got gears."
Moe Candy, who stalked the early pace in third, appeared primed for a closing victory and pulled alongside early in the stretch, but could not get past the winner, who drew away late to hit the wire in 1:08.75.
"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," Desormeaux said.
Bred in Florida by Bonnie Heath Farm, out of the Honor Glide mare Dream Ride, St. Joe Bay now has a 5-5-3 record from 21 starts with earnings of $377,175.