ARCADIA, Calif. — Trainer Bob Baffert was in the midst of an ugly stretch of Breeders' Cup luck.
One of his more unsung contenders ended up providing the first salve of the day as 10-1 choice New Year's Day shot up the rail under Martin Garcia to best favored Havana by 11/4 lengths in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park.
Baffert came into Saturday's Breeders' Cup lineup sporting a 1-for-25 record in the World Championships since 2009 with Secret Circle (2011 Juvenile Sprint) his only winner during that period. Then in Saturday's first Breeders' Cup race, the Juvenile Fillies, Baffert-trainee and Grade I winner Secret Compass suffered a fatal condylar fracture on the far turn and had to be euthanized.
Owned by Gary and Mary West, New Year's Day was jumping into the Juvenile having just broken his maiden second time out while going a mile at Del Mar on Aug. 31. Stablemate Tap It Rich had more buzz in his favor in advance of the 11⁄16-mile test, but New Year's Day showed raw talent that will get him winterbook play as a Kentucky Derby contender when he rallied from seventh down the backstretch to leave Havana and Grade I winner Strong Mandate in his wake.
"This business is so tough. Here just a little bit ago I lost (Secret Compass) and now here I am winning a race like this," said Baffert, who followed up his Juvenile triumph by saddling Secret Circle to victory in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. "I know he's a two-turn horse and he's been showing us a lot here in the morning."
The win gave jockey Martin Garcia his first career Breeders' Cup win. Garcia, too, promptly added to his total when he guided Secret Circle in the Sprint.
Sprint marks second Cup win for Secret Circle
Few mentioned Secret Circle's name when talking of past Breeders' Cup winners returning for 2013, but the 4-year-old joined the ranks of horses with multiple wins in the World Championships when he held off Laugh Track to take the 6-furlong Sprint.
Secret Circle won the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint and was a multiple graded stakes winner at 3 before being sidelined with a sesamoid injury.
On Oct. 14, he won an allowance race at Del Mar in his first start since April 2012. After tracking sixth in the 12-horse Sprint field, the bay colt spurted past Gentlemen's Bet under left-handed urging from Garcia and was kept to task to fend off Laugh Track by a neck in a final time of 1:08.73.
Defending race winner Trinniberg was ninth and appeared to be bleeding from the mouth after the race.
Ria Antonia elevated to Juvenile Fillies win
Dismissed at odds of 32-1, Ria Antonia crossed the wire in second but was elevated to first in the Juvenile Fillies because of interference in the stretch from She's a Tiger.
Having made all the pace in the 11⁄16-mile race, She's a Tiger was trying to hold off an outside charge from Ria Antonia when she drifted out and made contact. In a majority decision by the stewards, She's a Tiger was disqualified to second, giving Ria Antonia her first graded stakes win and second career triumph in five starts.
The race was marred by the fatal breakdown of Secret Compass while on the far turn. The daughter of Discreet Cat sustained a lateral condylar fracture with dislocation resulting in loss of blood supply and was euthanized.
Jockey John Velazquez, who was on Secret Compass, was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena were he was found to have internal bleeding. He underwent emergency surgery to have his spleen removed.
Euros' Magician denies The Fugue in Turf
The number of European entrants for this year's Breeders' Cup may have been down compared to past years. But the crew that did come over served notice to U.S. runners, highlighted by Magician's upset win over the top race filly The Fugue in the $3 million Turf.
Having finished an unlucky third in the Filly & Mare Turf one year ago, The Fugue appeared set to redeem herself with even bigger stakes on the line in the 11/2-mile Turf.
The daughter of Dansili moved up three-wide past defending race winner Little Mike and got clear in the stretch. Under jockey Ryan Moore, Magician emerged outside of that one to give trainer Aidan O'Brien his fourth win in the Turf.
The 3-year-old Magician won the Group I, one-mile Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on May 25 but had not been to the races since running ninth to Dawn Approach in the Group I St. James Palace Stakes on June 18. Magician was making his first start over the 12-furlong distance and had a final time of 2:23.23.
Mizdirection defends in Turf Sprint
The queen of the downhill turf course at Santa Anita Park made subjects of her competition in the 61/2-furlong Turf Sprint for a second straight season. Mizdirection joined champion Groupie Doll in defending her 2012 race win at the World Championships when she prevailed by a half-length in a three-horse charge to the wire.
Unbeaten in seven starts over the turf course at Santa Anita, Mizdirection came into this year's Turf Sprint having not run since finishing fifth in the Grade I Just a Game in June. She won last year's Turf Sprint off a near six-month layoff and her fresh legs ran to perfection again Saturday.
Breaking out of post No. 12, jockey Mike Smith had 5-2 favorite Mizdirection angling out wide around the turn and let her power home to give him his 20th career Breeders' Cup victory.
Dank reigns in Filly & Mare Turf
Duplicating the form that brought her top-level glory in her North American debut, British-bred Dank made her second trip across the ocean count when she held off Romantica to win the 11/4-mile Filly & Mare Turf.
Jockey Ryan Moore proclaimed he didn't feel Dank was "as brilliant" on Saturday as she was at Arlington Park. Nonetheless, she stalked pacesetter Emollient through fractions of :24.02 and :47.50 over a course rated firm before putting that one away at the head of the lane.
Emollient's stablemate Romantica made a run of her own between horses in what was her U.S. debut, with Alterite coming on to finish third.
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.