California-bred Amazombie will defend his title against six other top sprinters in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (gr. I) against six opponents in a race formerly known as the Ancient Title Oct. 6.
Winner of last year’s Ancient Title en route to victory in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) and the 2011 Eclipse Award as the nation’s top sprinter, the race will once again serve as a final prep for the 2012 XpressBet Breeders’ Cup Sprint to be run at Santa Anita Park Nov. 3. The race is the eighth on the card with a 4:38 p.m. PDT scheduled post.
The Sprint championship is an important race for Amazombie's owners Thomas Sanford and Bill Spawr, who also trains the 6-year-old gelding by Northern Afleet . As a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" Challenge event, it guarantees that entry fees are paid for the winner, which was a key to Amazombie's late-season success last year.
Nobody is handing it to him. The speedy filly Reneesgotzip is a threat to take the six-furlong test gate to wire. The field also includes two grade I winners, Coil and Camp Victory, as well as recent Pat O'Brien Stakes (gr. II) winner Capital Account . Bob Baffert trains both Coil and Capital Account.
Spawr said he is concerned about the way the main track at Santa Anita has played to speed since opening for its autumn meet. Still, he feels good about Amazombie being back at his home track, where he has five wins and five placings from 11 starts.
"I would think so," Spawr said when asked if he has an advantage. "He's run very well over this track here at Santa Anita being home, and I think it's a definite advantage."
Winner of the Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I) July 29 at Del Mar, Amazombie has been training forwardly, as evidenced by his 1:13 3/5 six-furlong drill over the main track Sept. 29.
"He went the first quarter in 25 and one (fifth) and the last in 24 flat," said Spawr. "He galloped out in (seven furlongs) in 1:26 and two. I'm very happy."
Spawr is hoping that Coil or perhaps the speedy Castletown, making his stakes debut for trainer Tim Yakteen, will take the filly on early.
"We'd prefer somebody else do the dirty work," he said. "It's not really his style to do that (press the pace). We tried it once against Shackleford , and it sure didn't work out (in the grade II Churchill Downs Stakes May 5)."
Amazombie will once again be ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who has been aboard for the champ's last nine races, with five first-place finishes. Amazombie's complete record is 27-12-5-6, with earnings of $1,905,378.
Capital Account comes off a solid win over stablemate Coil and Camp Victory in the Aug. 26 Pat O'Brien going seven furlongs. He was third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Amazombie in the Crosby.
A winner of two of his last three starts with David Flores up, Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable's 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Closing Argument has never been off the board in nine career starts and has done well at Santa Anita. Owned by , his overall mark is 9-5-2-2, with a bankroll of $347,080.
Baffert will also send out the highly regarded Coil, who was second, beaten a half length by Capital Account as the 7-5 favorite in the Pat O'Brien. A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Point Given , Coil's impressive resume includes a win in last year's Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I) at Monmouth Park. Owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, he has been relegated to a pair of sprint starts in 2012.
Both Capital Account and Coil worked in company for Baffert Sept. 30 on Santa Anita's main track. Capital Account went four furlongs in :48 2/5 under Rafael Bejarano, while Coil went five furlongs 1:01 with Martin Garcia up.
Camp Victory won the Triple Bend Handicap (gr. I) at Betfair Hollywood Park June 30 and was most recently third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths in the Pat O'Brien. The Mike Mitchell trainee is without doubt one of the toughest sprinters on the West Coast and should give a good account of himself. Camp Victory has been assigned co-high weight along with Amazombie of 124 pounds.
Reneesgotzip, from the Peter Miller barn, is coming off a front-running 3 1/4-length victory at Del Mar Sept. 5. She ran six furlongs in 1:08.23 on Polytrack and brings a two-race winning streak into the Sprint Championship.
The lone 3-year-old in the lineup is Spendthrift Farm's Jimmy Creed , who will cut back in distance following a big second-place finish to the highly regarded Fed Biz in the one mile El Cajon Stakes on Aug. 31 at Del Mar. On speed figures, the Richard Mandella-trained Jimmy Creed ran the best race of his career in the El Cajon, earning a 103 Beyer while pressing the pace throughout.