Arcadia, Calif. -- Unraced since a maiden win at Del Mar in late August, New Year’s Day was overlooked at 10-1 entering Saturday’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The 2-year-old rallied up the inside to post an upset and established himself as one of the leading contenders for next year’s Kentucky Derby.
The promising youngster provided jockey Martin Garcia with his first Breeders’ Cup victory.
“I thought I had a lot of horse,” Garcia said after the 1 1/4-length victory. “I had never ridden him in a race, but I have been getting on him in the morning most of the time. We’re starting to get to know each other. It looks like a good team.”
Trained by three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert, who earned his third Juvenile score and ninth overall Breeders’ Cup win, New Year’s Day possesses an ideal pedigree for the 1 1/4-mile Run for the Roses next spring.
“I know he’s a two-turn horse,” the Hall of Fame conditioner said. “Martin rode a terrific race on him. I told him to take advantage of the rail and he did. I’m glad Martin got a chance to shine on a big day like this.”
A son of the top sire Street Cry, New Year’s Day is out of the multiple graded-stakes winning mare Justwhistledixie. He was purchased for $425,000 by owners Gary and Mary West at the 2012 Keeneland September sale.
Strong Mandate, winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes two starts back, broke sharply and grabbed the lead early on the backstretch of the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile. He continued to show the way into the far turn, but 5-2 favorite Havana was tracking the pacesetter in second and offered a sharp move to seize the lead approaching the top of the stretch.
Havana led by two lengths with a quarter-mile remaining, but New Year’s Year closed strongly to catch his rival in deep stretch. The bay colt stopped the teletimer in 1:43 2/5, improving his career record to 3-2-0-1 in the process.
Havana, a game winner of the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park in his previous start, sustained his first career setback, finishing about a length better than Strong Mandate in third.
Next under the wire came Bond Holder, Tap It Rich, Mexikoma, We Miss Artie, Dance With Fire, Diamond Bachelor, Smarty’s Echo, Medal Count, Rum Point and Conquest Titan. Cleburne was scratched.