12/26/2013 3:04PM

New Year's Day, Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, is retired

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Barbara D. Livingston
New Year's Day capped his season with this victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

ARCADIA, Calif. – New Year’s Day, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, has been retired because of a non-displaced chip atop the sesamoid in his left hind leg, trainer Bob Baffert announced on Thursday.

New Year’s Day had not raced since the Breeders’ Cup and was preparing for his 3-year-old debut in 2014. Baffert said the injury was discovered earlier this week at Santa Anita following a routine gallop, when the colt was not walking comfortably. Precautionary X-rays revealed the injury. Baffert said owner Gary West called him on Wednesday to tell him he had decided to retire New Year’s Day.

“It’s gut-wrenching for me,” said Baffert, who several times had privately said he thought New Year’s Day was his best Kentucky Derby prospect in years. On Thursday, he called New Year’s Day his best prospect, “at this time of year,” since Point Given, who lost the 2001 Derby but went on to be Horse of the Year after winning the Preakness and Belmont.

New Year’s Day raced three times. He finished third in his debut going 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar on Aug. 17, then returned 14 days later to beat maidens going one mile at Del Mar.

Baffert then trained New Year’s Day straight into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in which he outran 12 others to win by 1 1/4 lengths at odds of 10-1.

Because of his Breeders’ Cup win, New Year’s Day is expected to be one of the three finalists for champion male 2-year-old when Eclipse Award finalists are revealed on Jan. 7. Voting closes on Jan. 3.

New Year's Day will enter stud at Hill 'n' Dale Farms in Lexington, Ky., for the 2014 breeding season, with a fee to be announced soon.

The colt was purchased by Gary and Mary West as a yearling for $425,000 at Keeneland September in 2012. He is by Street Cry out of the Dixie Union mare Justwhistledixie, a multiple Grade 2 winner.

“He is a horse that was beginning to reach his full potential, and his sire is one that gets a two-turn horse,” said Hill ‘n’ Dale owner and president John Sikura. “His dam could really run, and he is a favorite to win an Eclipse Award.

“Those are positives all along, and I have mixed emotions. I don’t know exactly what happened, but it just shows you how in the blink of an eye you can go from dreaming about the Kentucky Derby to discussing a stud fee for a soon-to-be turned 3-year-old. I feel very bad for the Wests – they get a horse this good and his career is abruptly interrupted.”

--additional reporting by DRF Breeding staff