ST. PETERSBURG — This one was for Dad.
Thirteen days after attending a memorial service for his father, Justin Holland paid tribute to him in a most fitting way — with a stakes win at Derby Lane.
The win by 9-1 shot Somerset Roy in the $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile Stakes on May 7 came as somewhat of a surprise in a race that included his standout littermate and 8-5 race favorite Kentucky Warren (fourth), and D'Arcy kennel's Distance Classic winner O Ya Cruiser Max (third).
Somerset Roy was the final greyhound to make the puppy stakes field with a victory in his last qualifier at 14-1 odds, snapping an eight-race losing streak. Then one day after his second birthday, the male out of a litter by Pat C Clement and Kentucky Jude enjoyed a perfect rail trip in the 550-yard finale from the No. 1 post. After trailing pacesetters Yolo Swag of Alderson kennel (second) and Kentucky Warren, he charged to the lead on the final turn and won by three lengths in 30.59 seconds, the second fastest clocking in Somerset Roy's 46-race career.
He earned $9,000 in his first stakes race for breeders and owners Don and Helen Godby of Eaton, Colo.
But the night belonged to Holland, a fifth-generation greyhound man whose father, Cal Holland Jr., 50, died on April 4. At his memorial service in St. Petersburg, Justin Holland vowed to make his dad proud.
"In my speech at the memorial, I hoped to build the legacy that (my father) had," he said. "In any stake race, you get a little bit of legacy behind you. So it helps out."
Holland, 28, a native of Ocala, is the manager and trainer for the operation of his grandfather, Cal Holland, president of the Tampa Bay Greyhound Association.
The victory evoked family memories from 2012, when Cal Holland Jr. won the St. Petersburg Consolation Derby with Art Allen — 18 days after his mother, Brenda Holland, had died. He paid tribute to her with everyone in the winner's circle shouting "Brenda Holland" in unison.
"This is quite special because it goes back to what my dad did for my grandma (winning) the first stakes race after she passed," Justin Holland said. "It was reminiscent of that with everything that's happened. It just makes me so happy inside that he honored my grandmother that way, and I can honor him this way."
Derek Barsell, a trainer for Floyd kennel, said Holland was a deserving winner.
"Every time I get to the stake final, I want to see Justin win it if I can't," Barsell said. "With everything that he's been through lately, this is a nice little cherry on the cake for him."
Brandy Glaspey, Justin's fiancee, said, "It shows that his dad is still there with his hand on his shoulder, saying, 'That's my boy.' "
MORE DERBY LANE: Husker Magic of Abernathy kennel is expected to make a second attempt at her 100th career victory on Monday's matinee.