Except for his most recent race, the marchby Amazombie toward consecutive wins in the Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) has been spot on.
Trainer Bill Spawr simply throws out the fourth-place finish by the son of Northern Afleet in the Oct. 6 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (gr. I), formerly known as the Ancient Title Stakes. Spawr went into the prep race expecting Amazombie to win but knew there were problems long before the gates opened.
"He seemed a bit off-edge, he wasn't himself saddling and wasn't himself warming up," Spawr said. "We only got beat 1 1/4 lengths but we thought we were going to win it."
But Spawr said Amazombie, the 4-1 morning line favorite, will be a different horse on race day. Tests run on Amazombie after the Santa Anita Sprint showed the 2011 Eclipse Award-winning sprinter had a slightly elevated white cell count and his protein levels were slightly off. With some diet changes, Amazombie has responded and blossomed.
"He is back to what he was, mentally and physically, at this time last year at the Breeders' Cup," Spawr said, standing in front the horse's stall. "Look at his hair, he's like a seal."
Amazombie faces a field of 13 other challengers in the Sprint, a race that is loaded with speed—Sum of the Parts in post 1, Fast Bullet in post 6, The Lumber Guy in post 7, and Trinniberg in post 9 --are likely to play a part in how the six-furlong race unfolds. Fortunately, said Spawr, Amazombie is outside them in post 11.
"He got a good draw. I hope the track plays fair where we all have an even chance," he said. "I hope we fall into a good spot, laying fourth or fifth."
Spawr co-owns Amazombie with Tom Sanford. The 6-year-old gelding was bred in California by Gregg Anderson.
If Amazombie wins the Sprint, he will be the second horse to win back-to-back editions of the race. The first was Midnight Lute in 2007 and 2008.
Spawr said his biggest competition is likely to come from Coil and Capital Account, both trained by Bob Baffert, who also conditioned Midnight Lute.
"The way this race sets up, I think those are the horses (to watch)," Spawr said.