August 18, 2022

New Year’s Eve sets off fireworks in Edgewood

New Year's Eve with Luis Saez riding wins the Edgewood Stakes (Photo by Horsephotos.com)

It might be the first Friday in May, but the $500,000 Edgewood (G2) was all about New Year’s Eve. Overlooked at 14.60-1, the Brendan Walsh trainee responded to the addition of blinkers and uncorked an explosive last-to-first rally at Churchill Downs.

New Year’s Eve with Luis Saez riding wins the Edgewood Stakes (Photo by Horsephotos.com)

Two of the Chad Brown trio headed the market, 2-1 favorite Dolce Zel and the 2.30-1 McKulick, but New Year’s Eve was long gone by the time they found running room. Runner-up McKulick arguably had the hard-luck story; once in the clear, she picked up well to beat third-placer Dolce Zel by 4 1/2 lengths.

Marc Detampel’s New Year’s Eve was making her first start away from Fair Grounds. The Kitten’s Joy filly produced similarly rousing finishes to capture her Dec. 10 debut and a Jan. 29 allowance. But she suffered her first loss when stepping up to stakes company, checking in third in the Allen Black Cat LaCombe Memorial S.

Under new rider Luis Saez, New Year’s Eve settled into her comfort zone at the back of the 10-horse field. The other Brown hope, Spicer, carved out splits of :24.07, :48.64, and 1:13.00 on the firm turf. Dolce Zel was covered up in striking range on the inside, while McKulick was rating slightly farther back.

New Year’s Eve began her eye-catching move wide on the far turn, increased her momentum into the lane, and overwhelmed the field. Powering to a 2 3/4-length decision, she negotiated 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.39 and returned $31.20 to win.

McKulick turned in an encouraging sophomore bow as best of the rest. The well-regarded daughter of Frankel is entitled to move forward, especially stretching out in distance.

Dolce Zel, who was on hold before splitting foes in midstretch, took third by a half-length from late-running Kneesnhips. Beechnut Trophy and Dream Lith crossed the wire together in a dead-heat fifth, followed by Tap Dancing Lady, My Philly Twirl, Spicer, and An Agent Mistake.

“She relaxed really well. I was able to save ground around the first turn. I came out a little after a half-mile because I saw horses in front stopping. At the top of the stretch, she was in the clear, and boom,” Saez said. “She was loving it. I could feel how happy she was.”

Walsh summed up New Year’s Eve’s improvement.

“She’s been just a bit slow mentally. But she’s getting it bit by bit,” Walsh said. “So we gave her some time to figure things out, then we gave her a push.

“We put blinkers on her for her last two works and she seemed to pick it up a bit. I was quietly confident that she’d be better today. And she was.”

New Year’s Eve now sports a record of 4-3-0-1, $353,600. The chestnut RNA’d for $110,000 as a 2020 Keeneland September yearling, then sold at Fasig-Tipton October for $105,000.

Bred by Stud TNT in Kentucky, New Year’s Eve is out of Awesome Rafaela, from a prolific Brazilian family. The Elusive Quality mare is a full sister to Group 1-placed Baby Go Far and a half-sister to Group 1 star Viva Rafaela, who placed in six U.S. stakes including the 2014 Flower Bowl (G1). Another half-sister, multiple Group 1-placed Unique Zuca, is herself the dam of Group 2 scorer Galaxy Runner, also a Group 1-placed performer.