Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: New Year’s Day becomes early Derby favorite

New Year's Day, trained by Bob Baffert, sprints to victory at the Breeders' Cup in the Juvenile race at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The Juvenile is the race that should foreshadow the Kentucky Derby favorite. The favorite, yes, the winner, almost never. Of the 29 previous Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners, only one -- Street Sense in 2006 -- has achieved that double.

But that doesn’t keep people from dreaming, and currently that optimism belongs to New Year’s Day and trainer Bob Baffert. The horse saved ground throughout the race, coming off the rail only twice and was fourth at the start of the stretch and came charging late to win the 1 1/16-mile race by 1 1/4-lengths.

New Year’s Day, with Martin Garcia aboard, paid $23, $9.20 and $6.60. Havana returned $4.60 and $3.40 while Strong Mandate paid $6 to show.

The win only slightly brightened the mood of Baffert, who saw his filly Secret Compass break down in the Juvenile Fillies. The horse was euthanized on the track.


“He’s been telling us in the mornings that he’s ready,” Baffert 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 day like this.”

Garcia agreed on the strategy.

“I saved ground of every corner,” Garcia said. “The rail was open and I took it. I didn’t panic.”


Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf: Favorite Dank wins

Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint: Mizdirection repeats as champion

Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint: Groupie Doll a repeat winner