HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- At the top of the stretch of the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Classic, it appeared that the favored Mr. Jordan was surely on his way to victory. But jockey Emisael Jaramillo and the game Jay's Way had other ideas, the pair fighting back along the inside to register a well-deserved half-length victory in the main event on Saturday's Sunshine Millions program at Gulfstream Park.
Jay's Way set the early pace in the 1 1/8-mile Classic before relinquishing command to Mr. Jordan leaving the final turn. But Jay's Way, who dug down after losing the lead in his previous start here four weeks ago to post a hard-fought nose decision, reasserted himself once again, overtaking the leader in the final yards to become a stakes winner.
Mr. Jordan, seeking his first win in nine tries at Gulfstream Park and his first at 1 1/8 miles, eased back off the leaders on the opening bend, raced outside of horses while kept within striking distance, then moved readily to the top on the final bend. But the multiple stakes winner took a somewhat erratic path at that point, drifting out upon settling into the stretch, then shortening stride late to come out second-best.
Mr. Jordan also was the runner-up after holding a clear lead in early stretch of the 2016 Sunshine Millions Classic.
Catholic Cowboy finished six lengths farther back to be third while never menacing the top pair.
Jay's Way, a son of Gone Astray, is trained by Armando De la cerda for Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc. He paid $10.
"The first race I ran him, he wasn't ready, and the second time, in the Claiming Crown, he had an outside post and got a bad trip," said De la cerda, who welcomed Jay's Way into his barn last fall. "The last time, I told Jaramillo to try to go to the front because that's the way he likes it, and today I told him the same thing - to push him to go to the front no matter what. I knew a mile and one-eighth wouldn't be a problem because I've been galloping him two miles, two miles, every day. Jaramillo rode him perfectly, and everything worked out."
De la cerda said he'd likely keep Jay's Way in Florida and against state-bred competition as best he can as the year progresses.