Amazombie received his final major drill Friday for a title defense in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, going five furlongs before sunrise on Santa Anita's fast main track in 1:00 3/5. It was the third fastest of 24 workers at the distance.
"He went good," trainer Bill Spawr said of the California-bred gelding he co-owns with partner Tom Sanford. "He went in a minute and two-fifths, the last quarter in 23 (and) three (fifths), he galloped out (six furlongs) in (one) 13 and two or three."
Amazombie, a six-year-old son of Northern Afleet, will attempt to rebound from his fourth-place finish as the 4-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship on October 6 and become the second back-to-back winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Midnight Lute won in 2007-08.
Nearly three hours after Amazombie, Tim Conway Stakes winner Merit Man (Juvenile Sprint) worked five furlongs in 1:04 1/5, nearly two seconds slower than his 1:02 3/5 drill on October 19, but Bob Hess Jr. was not concerned.
"The horse is incredibly lazy," the trainer said. "I worked him in the dark (last time) and he galloped around there like a clown in 1:02 and two (fifths). Today, it looked slow, but he followed a slow horse (stablemate Diamond Flush, who went in 1:05 1/5), and my rider was told to stay in behind throughout until the end, and then blow by, which is what he did.
"I loved the fact that he was aggressive throughout, pulling throughout and blew right by, so that's all positive. I'm just trying to get him to show a little more enthusiasm (by working in company). He never has, but today he did."
In other Breeders' Cup news:
Marketing Mix, the top American-based contender for the Filly & Mare Turf, completed five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 2/5 over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track on Friday. The Tom Proctor-trained filly exits a sharp performance over Santa Anita's turf, winning the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive by 2 1/4 lengths on September 29, and has won three of her last four starts overall, the lone setback being a rallying head second in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington. Garrett Gomez will ride the dark bay four-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro.
Unbeaten Flashy Ways (Catienus), an easy 2 1/2-length scorer in the October 8 Surfer Girl Stakes at Santa Anita, tuned up for her Juvenile Fillies Turf engagement with a five-furlong move in 1:00 4/5 on the Cushion Track. The Richard Baltas-trained filly was supplemented to the Breeders' Cup.
Multiple Grade 1 winner Dullahan, a late-running son of Even the Score, has been pre-entered for the $5 million Classic at 1 1/4 miles on dirt and the $3 million Turf at 1 1/2 miles.
Dale Romans, who trains the Grade 1 Pacific Classic winner, will count heavily on the valued opinion of Tammy Fox, his assistant of 21 years, before finalizing his decision. Dullahan is scheduled to work on Santa Anita's main track Saturday, after working a half-mile on turf last Saturday. In fact, all five of Romans' Breeders' Cup prospects are scheduled to work Saturday.
"Which race he runs in all depends on how he works on the dirt," Fox said of Dullahan. "I'll give a lot of input (to Romans), because I've worked Dullahan on all surfaces, so I know the horse. I'll be the determining factor."
In 13 career races, Dullahan has three wins, all Grade 1s over synthetic surfaces. He is winless in four turf starts and winless in six races on conventional dirt.
Romans' Breeders' Cup horses have been at Santa Anita since October 15 and have acclimated well.
"Shackleford (Dirt Mile) is doing really, really well out here," Fox said. "Little Mike (Turf) gallops every day and every day he's doing better and better. That's all we can hope for. They're going into the races good.
"We got out here early because Dale just wanted them to get used to the track and their new surroundings, and every day they're doing better and better."
After Saturday's drills, the horses will gallop into their prospective Breeders' Cup races.
Joe Talamo, with a nine-win lead over runner-up Rafael Bejarano in Santa Anita's standings with seven racing days left en route to what he hopes is his first-ever Southern California riding title, will meet and greet fans Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (PDT) at Ralphs supermarket in Arcadia, California, 211 E. Foothill Blvd.
Among his Breeders' Cup mounts, the likeable Louisiana native rides California Flag in the Turf Sprint, which they won at Santa Anita in 2009.