J R 's Holiday earned his first stakes win and second victory in a row in the $100,000 Kitten's Joy Stakes Jan. 30 at Gulfstream Park.
The 3-year-old Harlan's Holiday colt went off as the longest shot of the board at 19-1, but had the best kick in the stretch, closing from last in the six horse field to win the mile turf test by three-quarter lengths, ahead of pace-setter Don't Be So Salty, who was eventually disqualified to fourth for bearing out in the stretch.
Grade II winner Azar was elevated to second and Little Mo moved up to third. Favored Conquest Daddyo—who won the Summer (Can-IIT) in September at Woodbine and went off at 7-5—came in last, behind second choice and last-out Dania Beach (gr. IIIT) winner Life Imitates Art.
Under the guidance of jockey Emisael Jaramillo, J R 's Holiday trailed the field entering the first turn, moved up to fifth, four-wide in the backstretch, then tucked in on the rail in the final turn. When Don't Be So Salty bore out, a gaping lane opened up on the rail and J R 's Holiday surged through.
Don't Be So Salty clicked off fractions of :23.49 and :47.96 through a half-mile, then covered six furlongs in 1:11.42 before J R 's Holiday took over to hit the wire in 1:35.20.
The winner paid $40.80, $12.40, and $6.40 across the board. Azar returned $5.20 and $4.20, while Little Mo brought $6.40 to show.
Bred in Kentucky by Dr. John Chandler, out of the Empire Maker mare Diza, J R 's Holiday was purchased for $55,000 by trainer Jose Garoffalo for J.R. Racing from the Fasig-Tipton Florida select 2-year-olds in training sale in 2015. He now has a 3-1-1 record from eight starts with $132,875 in earnings.