Amazombie, last year's Eclipse Award winner as the nation's outstanding sprinter, looks to get his 2012 going in the same direction when he meets eight rivals in the $150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes (gr. II) April 7 at Santa Anita Park.
Trained and co-owned by Bill Spawr, 6-year-old Amazombie captured last year's 6 1/2-furlong Potrero Grande by a head, the first of five wins during the year that concluded with a victory in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I).
Amazombie, a California-bred son of Northern Afleet , has raced once since then, finishing third, 2 1/4 lengths behind The Factor , in the San Carlos Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 25.
Though entered at Santa Anita, Amazombie is also under consideration for the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park April 14. Spawr felt that Amazombie didn't have much of a chance in the five-horse San Carlos in which The Factor was able to set the tone from the outset. But with a decent-sized field in the Potrero Grande and a better blend of speed signed on, this would appear to be a more inviting race.
Amazombie, drawing post 2, has been assigned 123 pounds, five more than each of his rivals. Mike Smith has the mount. Amazombie has a lifetime record of 10-4-6 in 24 races with earnings of $2,549,708.
The Potrero Grande is part of an 11-race Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) program. It goes as the ninth race with a 4 p.m. PDT scheduled start.
Sway Away, who passed Amazombie in the stretch run of the San Carlos and finished only a half-length behind The Factor, is also entered in the Potrero Grande. Considering that the 4-year-old son of Afleet Alex had not run in more than eight months previously, trainer Jeff Bonde has every reason to expect even more this time. Rafael Bejarano rides the late-running Sway Away, who has the rail as he goes for his first stakes win.
Patti and Hal Earnhardt's homebred Roman Threat won his debut March 11 as though he can be any kind for trainer Bob Baffert. The Roman Ruler colt won by 1 1/4 lengths despite being fanned five-wide into the stretch while completing six furlongs in 1:08. He came back to work a bullet six furlongs on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track in 1:12 March 31.
Camp Victory has not been out since finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. The Virginia-bred son of Forest Camp was awarded a win in Hollywood's Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III) last May when Amazombie was disqualified and placed third for bulling his way through an opening in deep stretch.
Trained by Mike Mitchell for the partnership of Roger Featherston, Gordon Jacobsen, and Tom Miller, the 5-year-old gelding was claimed for $40,000 in February of last year.
Courtside, from the John Sadler barn, weakened to finish last as the favorite in the Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II) on a wet fast track Jan. 21. Lee and Susan Searing's 4-year-old California homebred son of Cindago has been working well for his return.
$150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 4 p.m.), 4 & Up, 6 1/2 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Sway Away (KY), R Bejarano, 118, J Bonde
2. Amazombie (CA), M E Smith, 123, W Spawr
3. Mensa Heat (CA), G K Gomez, 118, T H West
4. Smart Spending (KY), J Rosario, 118, C Gaines
5. Roman Threat (KY), M Garcia, 118, B Baffert
6. Camp Victory (VA), J Talamo, 118, M R Mitchell
7. Courtside (CA), A L Castanon, 118, J W Sadler
8. Thunder of Zion (CA), A Bisono, 118, W Spawr
9. Thinking of Girls (FL), D P Vergara, 118, D E Breuer
Blinkers On: Thunder of Zion