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Breeders' Cup Juvenile: Baffert hopeful New Year's Day is his 2014 Kentucky Derby horse
ARCADIA, Calif. - New Year’s Day had barely crossed the finish line in the eighth race at Santa Anita on the first Saturday in November before trainer Bob Baffert started thinking about the 11th race on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.
“When he started drawing off I thought this is a serious Derby horse,” Baffert said the morning after New Year’s Day drew off to win the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by 1 1/4 lengths on Saturday.
Immediately after the race, the connections of every Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner often dreams of the Kentucky Derby six months hence. However, from the first 29 runnings of the Juvenile, only Street Sense, the 2006 Juvenile winner, was able to return to win the Derby the following spring. None of the horses that ran in last year’s Juvenile even competed in this year’s Derby.
As a three-time Derby winner and now a three-time Juvenile winner, Baffert believes that most Juvenile winners are simply precocious sorts that can’t handle the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Derby.
“Every year there are a lot of really fast horses that can carry their speed,” Baffert said. “He reminded me of Street Sense, the way he was kicking on there.”
Though Santa Anita’s main track played much fairer on Saturday than it had on Friday when it had a pronounced speed bias, New Year’s Day impressed by how much dirt he took, the fact he hadn’t run in two months, and was making his first start in a stakes race.
Baffert hopes that is enough to convince Eclipse Award voters that New Year’s Day is worthy of being crowned 2-year-old champion. He has won 2 of 3 starts.
“He proved he was the best horse because he took the worst of it,” Baffert said. “The light really hasn’t gone on yet. He won that race just on raw talent. If it was a mile and an eighth he was just going to open up on them. It was a pretty tough field compared to last year. Beating a field like that pretty handily … I guess it’s all up to the voters.”
Baffert said he would sit down with owners Gary and Mary West and map out a plan to get to the Kentucky Derby. He didn’t know if it would include a start in the CashCall Futurity at Betfair Hollywood Park in December.
“We’re going to sit down and talk about it with the Kentucky Derby being the main goal,” Baffert said.
Baffert said the Wests “really want to get to the Kentucky Derby.” Baffert said that last year, he had a nice horse in Flashback but that horse came up with an issue and missed the Triple Crown.
“The other horses we had weren’t good enough,” Baffert said.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner Havana, who won the Grade 1 Champagne, was headed back east and will most likely start his 3-year-old campaign in south Florida for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Strong Mandate, the Hopeful winner who ran third in the Juvenile, is not expected to run again this year, according to trainer D. Wayne Lukas. He will spend the winter at Oaklawn, where last year Lukas prepared his 3-year-olds Oxbow, who won the Preakness, and Will Take Charge, who won the Travers and Pennsylvania Derby and was beaten a nose in Saturday’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Asked his opinion on the 2-year-old championship, Lukas said, “they haven’t sorted it out yet. I’d like to get out of the 14-hole and see what happens. We really had to use him from there.”
- additional reporting by Jay Privman
Now that the Breeders Cup is over all I can say is since 1991 I have been a regular by betting and following this once great game but I guess all good things come to an end and that end is today...with the recent changes in racing because of synthetic surfaces, tracks closing, smaller field sizes and race days, medication changes, rising costs to forms, admission, parking, programs, news, etc. I have placed my LAST bet on this game and will no longer follow it...Good luck with surviving and I would say it's in good hands but after watching that beyond embarrassing coverage NBC put on this weekend I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel...greed has ruined the game just like many other sports and I refuse to spend my hard earned money on something that has become so wrong...I pray for the Horses because unfortunately they don't have a say in this but I can only hope that good people like Kathy Ritvo stay in this game long enough for change...watching her run to her horse and her jockey after the biggest win in her career made me realize why I do still love this game...it's a shame the people running this once great game don't see what I see...what a shame the best horse race of the year in the biggest stage of the year had to be on a network that only cared about celebrities rather than the true celebrities of the sport which are the HORSES and the GREAT people like KATHY that care for them!
D-Wayne almost got another big one this year!
I am Bob fan, unapolagetic one, but if I was the owner of Tap it Rich, he would of be in Mandella or Hollendorfers barn Today. I hope it was the owners who push for that. He did not do that bad fifth place, but looked like a career ruining race to me all that for fifth place on a Baby second time out. Hope Bob did not push for that.
Sorry Bob but I think Street Sense would have beaten this horse.
More impressed with baffert's other horse in the same race, tap it rich.
Strong Mandate, Bond Holder, New Years Day, Havana should run in Grade One CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park. That would settle this debate, Honor Code should show up as well. Cusion track plays fair and Bond Holder only has one race on track and it was 5th. That would be a Great Race
I'll let you know next April
Lol he'll be hurt by New Years Day. see what i did there
NoNayNever is unbeaten and had two stakes wins. Doubt he's a Derby candidate, but he should be champion
This race is still wide open. There are a couple of important races left. New Year's Day could be the best, but a champ should have more than one stakes win. Havana looks like a sprinter to me. I wonder if Honor Code is going to run again this year.