Gary and Mary West's New Year's Day, a 10-1 shot from trainer Bob Baffert, rallied strongly up the rail to catch favored Havana inside the final sixteenth and win the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). The bay colt by Street Cry covered the 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita Park in 1:43. 52 (VIDEO).
The winning margin was 1 1/4 lengths. Havana held for second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Strong Mandate in third. Bond Holder was 1 1/4 lengths back in fourth.
Conquest Titan broke sharply from the gate and led the field of 13 as they passed the wire the first time, tracked by Rum Point and Havana. After an opening quarter in :22.66, Strong Mandate got into the pace play with a wide move down the backstretch. The half-mile went in :45.38.
Havana and Strong Mandate made bold moves to pull away from the pack turning for home after six furlongs in 1:09.70. Havana made a wide move into the lane but held the lead over Strong Mandate. Ken and Sarah Ramsey's We Miss Artie made headway, but it was New Year's Day making the most of it while skimming the rail and as the leaders tired was able to get up under Martin Garcia.
The mile went in 1:36.66.
"My horse doesn't have that too much pace," Garcia said. "I was exactly where I wanted to be. The rail was open and I took it; I didn't panic."
The winner, out of the Dixie Union mare Justwhistledixie, was bred in Kentucky by Clearsky Farms.
He was making his first start on dirt after making a pair of starts at Del Mar this summer. In his Aug. 17 debut he rallied from ninth to finish third going 5 1/2 furlongs. Stretched out to a mile Aug. 31, he pressed the pace, then drew clear in the lane win going a mile by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:36.93. Second in his maiden-breaker was Bond Holder, winner of the FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 28 at Santa Anita. Garrett Gomez was aboard New Year's Day for both mounts at Del Mar. Garcia got the call in the $2 million Juvenile.
"He showed us a lot in his two races at Del Mar," said Baffert. "I know he's a 2-year-old horse and he's been showing us a lot here in the morning. He's been telling us in the mornings that he's ready.
"Martin rode a terrific race on him. I told him to take advantage of the rail and he did. This business is so tough. Here just a bit ago I lost a 2-year-old filly (Secret Compass) and now here I am winning a race like this."
New Year's Day paid $23, $9.20, and $6.60. Havana returned $4.60 and $3.40. Strong Mandate paid $6. The $1 4-13 exacta paid $53.90.
Tap It Rich, Baffert's other runner and the 3-1 second choice, ran fifth and was followed by Mexikoma, We Miss Artie, Dance With Fate, Diamond Bachelor, Smarty's Echo, Medal Count, Rum Point, and Conquest Titan.
"I thought he ran super," said trainer Todd Pletcher of runner-up Havana. "He just came up a little tired in the very last part there. I'm really happy with the way he positioned himself. Gary said he got a little bit lost when he made the lead turning for home."
Gary Stevens replaced John Velazquez, who was injured earlier in day, on Havana.
"It was a great try," Stevens said. "This is a serious horse."
New Year's Day was a $425,000 Keeneland September sale graduate. The Wests' bloodstock agent, Ben Glass, bought the colt out of the sale's first session from Clearsky Farms, agent.
The Juvenile winner is the first foal out of Justwhistledixie, who in 2009 won the Bonnie Miss and Davona Dale Stakes (both gr. II) and was runner-up in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) for West Point Thoroughbreds, Lakland Farm, and R. Dee Hubbard. Justwhistledixie, bred by Hermitage Farm, is a half sister to 2006 Saratoga Special Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) winner Chace City.