Updated on 11/02/2013 6:31PM

Breeders' Cup Juvenile: New Year's Day benefits from Garcia's patient ride

Tom Keyser
New Year's Day takes the lead inside Havana in the final sixteenth of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

ARCADIA, Calif. – When giving instructions how to ride New Year’s Day in Saturday’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, trainer Bob Baffert told jockey Martin Garcia to ignore all the chatter about a speed bias at Santa Anita.

“I just told Martin ‘Don’t ride the track, just ride the horse,’ ” Baffert said.

[BREEDERS' CUP SATURDAY: Video replays and race results]

Garcia listened, gave New Year’s Day a patient ride, and the colt unleashed a strong stretch run along the inside to run down Havana and win the Juvenile by 1 1/4 lengths. Havana, who made the lead turning for home, tired late and held second by three-quarters of a length over Strong Mandate, who was hustled to the front early in the race.

The win was the third for Baffert in the Juvenile and came only a few hours after his filly Secret Compass suffered a fatal leg injury during the running of the Juvenile Fillies.

“I just can’t believe that filly got hurt. I was just in shock,” Baffert said. “I really thought highly of her, like she was starting to make a move. It’s great that we won, but it doesn’t overcome the tragedy of losing that filly.”

The victory was the first in the Breeders’ Cup for owners Gary and Mary West, who had run fifth and eighth in last year’s Juvenile with Power Broker and Title Contender, respectively. It was also the first victory in a Breeders’ Cup race for Garcia, who has ridden many stakes winners for Baffert and works horses for Baffert in the morning.

“This is a really huge breakthrough for him. He really needed this,” Baffert said.

New Year’s Day had not run since winning a maiden race at Del Mar on Aug. 31. The horse had a fever that prompted Baffert to keep him out of the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes here on Sept. 28. Baffert told the Wests he was confident he could train the horse up to the race.

While Garcia ignored the speed bias, it was clear that trainer D. Wayne Lukas wanted Joel Rosario to have Strong Mandate on the lead. Breaking from post 14, Rosario hustled Strong Mandate around the first turn to wrest the lead from Conquest Titan, who ran an opening quarter in 22.66 seconds.

Strong Mandate took over straightening away down the backside and ran a half-mile in 45.38 seconds and six furlongs in 1:09.70. Gary Stevens, subbing for an injured John Velazquez aboard Havana, moved his horse to Strong Mandate around the turn.

Stevens was hoping he would have Strong Mandate to run with down the lane, but Havana had cleared him in upper stretch and he began to slow down.

“All of a sudden Strong Mandate came off the bridle and I was left in no-man’s land and had to start after my colt,” Stevens said. “He emptied out pretty good the last sixteenth.”

Meanwhile, New Year’s Day, who was seventh about seven lengths back after three-quarters of a mile, launched his bid around the turn. Coming into the stretch, Garcia dove New Year’s Day to the inside and he rallied past the tiring Havana and Strong Mandate.

“I saved ground at every corner,” Garcia said. “The rail was open and I took it. I didn’t panic. My horse was ready to start running. I thought I had a lot of horse.”

New Year’s Day, a son of Street Cry that brought $425,000 at auction, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.52 and returned $23 to win.

“It takes a way above average young horse to do what he did today,” Baffert said. “It’s exciting to win a Breeders Cup race. The minute he hit the wire I started thinking the first Saturday in May.”

Baffert, of course, was referring to the Kentucky Derby. Baffert has won three Kentucky Derbies. Street Sense is the only one of the previous 29 Juvenile winners to come back and win the Derby.

$2 exacta (4-13), $107.80
$1 trifecta (4-13-14), $476.10
$.10 super (4-13-14-5), $380.76
$2 double (12-4), $116
$1 pick-3 (11-12-4), $278.30