St. Joe Bay has been feeling, and feeding, his oats.

St. Joe Bay has been feeling, and feeding, his oats.

After finishing fourth, just a head short of second, in a $2 million race in Dubai in the spring, the 5-year-old named in honor of the breeder’s favored fishing spot, St. Joseph Bay, is back in training after a monthlong break in something of a horse “resort.”

And his owners have the thoroughbred pointed toward the $1.5 million Breeder’s Cup Sprint race in November.

“We brought him back about two weeks ago into training and the plan is two or three races at the most then the Breeder’s Cup,” said co-owner David Bernsen.

The plan is to enter St. Joe Bay in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar in Southern California on July 29 and/or the Grade 2 Pat ‘O Brien Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 26.

Up next would be the Grade 1 Santa Anita Spring Championship in early October and then the Grade 1 Breeder’s Cup which arrives Nov. 1.

“Now mind you, these are horses so fingers-crossed he stays healthy,” Bernsen said.

Prior to racing in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai in March, St. Joe Bay, at one time a Triple Crown prospect only to be converted into a sprinter, had won three-straight races.

That included a Grade 3 stakes race at Del Mar the final day of 2016 and a Grade 2 win at Santa Anita in February.

The horse was bred by Kim and Bonnie Heath on their Bonnie Heath Farm in Marion County and named after one of Bonnie’s favored fishing spot while spending time at a second home in Gulf County.

Bernsen called Dubai a “great experience and definitely plan to go back, hopefully with (St. Joe Bay).”

The horse handled the long travel well, he said, and did not become afflicted by what is known as “shipping fever” which can be devastating to a race horse.

But, there were events that “colluded against us.”

Just the first time being in Dubai and at the event was a learning experience and trainer and co-owner Peter Miller had another horse in the race just before the Golden Shaheen, which created some logistical issues, Bernsen said.

In addition, jockey Kent Desormeaux was not available and Miller replaced him Norberto Arroyo, Jr., who “is very good and wins a lot of races for Peter,” Bernsen said.

But, it was the first time in Dubai for Arroyo, also, and the jockey arrived late due to passport issues and did not ride in an earlier dirt race.

The major problem, however, was the weather.

In that desert hot spot, there was a torrential downpour the night before the event turning the dirt track to a bog, Bernsen said.

“It was impossible for a front runner to win that day and the inside of the track was the worst, which is where (St. Joe Bay) ended up in the stretch,” Bernsen said.

St. Joe Bay grabbed an early lead in the six-furlong race and held it until the final furlong.

Bernsen noted that the leading local trainer had two horses in the race, one to be the “rabbit” pushing the pace and to make matters worse the rain, and heavy winds, picked up again just before the race.

Down the back stretch the horses were running into a stiff headwind.

St. Joe simply never found an additional gear, instead “floating” into the deepest part of the muddied track.

“At first I was disappointed, but the winner was very well-prepared and the conditions and shape and pace of the race all set up perfectly for him,” Bernsen said. “That said, if Joe gets a break on any of the above and he finishes a head better and we get second.

“In hindsight, the fact he battled on like he did was very encouraging.”

Particularly, when consider the Breeder’s Cup, to be held this year at Del Mar.

“I have to think that staying home and walking 200 yards from his home stall at Del Mar on a track he relishes as opposed to shipping halfway around the world to a track he had never been on with (Miller) not dealing with a set of first-time unknowns on his home track where he is a leading trainer will make up a lot of the three lengths (St. Joe Bay) lost by (in Dubai),” Bernsen said.