Amazombie, defending champion of Saturday's Breeders'
Cup Sprint, was put through what amounted to a faster-than-usual gallop on
Thursday morning at Santa Anita under exercise rider Javier Meza that trainer Bill Spawr
likened to the one or two days before the 2011 Sprint at Churchill Downs.
"He left the half-mile pole and did a two-minute clip," Spawr said. "We
didn't want to throw any elevens (seconds for a furlong) at him. The rider came
back and said he just galloped him. He did exactly what we wanted, the same
thing he did last year. We don't want to change anything if it works."
Amazombie went out with the second set from the Spawr stable to go to the
track. Even as a second-setter, the six-year-old Northern Afleet gelding was track-bound
in the darkness just before 5 a.m. (PDT) followed by an entourage walking behind that
included Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who will be aboard for the 11th
consecutive time, the 18th of Amazombie's last 19 starts and the 22nd time in
the champion's 29-race career.
The group followed Amazombie's progress most of the way around the track by
watching a blinking red light on Meza's helmet, an innovation that Spawr
assistant Chris Aplin utilized around racetracks for about 10 years. Aplin had
Amazombie going the three-eighths to the wire in :38 1/5.
Spawr prefers heavier riders to muscle Amazombie in the morning, which
explained Smith's status strictly as an observer. Smith has guided Amazombie to
10 of his 12 career victories. Twice with Smith aboard Amazombie crossed under
the wire first only to be taken down via disqualification.
"I don't get on him in the mornings, but he looked to me like he's doing
really good and all systems are go," Smith said on the way back from trackside
to barn 37.
"He's naturally quick on his own and he's not going to be too far out of it.
When he fires, he'll run over anything. He might favor one surface a little over
another, but he's ready and I think the track will be good and he'll run over
Trainer Bob Baffert's Sprint threesome of Capital Account, Coil and Fast Bullet all
were gallopers at Santa Anita Thursday morning and all appeared at the ready to
deliver good performances in Saturday's Sprint that normally names America's
The Hall of Fame trainer has different reasons to like each one of them in
the six-furlong race.
"Fast Bullet, he's just a fast horse," Baffert said. "He's appropriately
named. No telling how quick he might run.
"Capital Account is all racehorse. You know, I think the six furlongs may be
too short for him, but he's going to run big anyway. I wish I had had the guts
to put him in the (Dirt) Mile. He'll run a mile and he'd be a good miler. But
he's sprinting Saturday and we'll hope for some good luck.
"Coil could be a good miler, too. He can run two turns. But when we brought
him back (from a near-10-month stint on the sidelines) we just got behind on
him. It was all about the timing. The horse won a Grade 1 sprint (Santa Anita
Sprint Championship [formerly Ancient Title]), so we know he's a good sprinter. That's not bad. He
might have the edge at six furlongs."
Barry K. Schwartz's gray New York-bred colt The Lumber Guy strutted his
stuff Thursday morning during a 1 3/8-miles gallop on the main track.
"I was very happy," trainer Mike Hushion said. "He was showing himself off
pretty good. The photographers picked up on him pretty quickly. He's got a nice
The Lumber Guy, whose dam, Boltono, died the day after he was foaled in April
2009, earned his trip to the Sprint with a victory in the Grade 1 Vosburgh on September 29
at Belmont Park. The Grand Slam colt was the lesser half of the favored entry with Sean Avery,
but made a name for himself with a 1 1/4-length victory.
The Lumber Guy is Hushion's third Breeders' Cup starter.
"The other two times that I went, it was a 'we'll take a shot' type of thing,
but here I think I've got a loaded gun," Hushion noted. "If we get a little luck
in the trip, it's going to be very interesting."
When trainer Shivananda Parbhoo saddles Trinniberg in the
Sprint, it will cap off a remarkable 12 months in which the Calder-based
owner/conditioner ran horses in two Breeders' Cups, the Kentucky Derby and in
the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup day.
"It's been unbelievable," the Trinidad and Tobago native said. "My family has
been training horses for a while, but we really just got going full-time in the
business a few years ago. So to have started horses in races like the ones we
have; words can't describe.
"But the time for sightseeing is over. We're all business this year, and
we're here to win this race."
Parbhoo credits several people with the Parbhoo family's rapid ascent in the
racing industry, most notably those aiding in the day-to-day activities of
running the barn.
"Believe me, my help is the very best," Parbhoo said. "This guy right here
that I brought with me to California, Oscar (Sotelo), is the best anywhere. We
wouldn't be here without him, or any of the others that work with us back in
Florida, New York, or wherever we have horses stabled."
Trinniberg will be the first Breeders' Cup starter for Parbhoo as trainer.
When the colt ran in last year's Juvenile Sprint, Bisnath Parboo, Shivananda's
father, was the trainer of record. The same is true of last year's Sprint
participant Giant Ryan. Shivananda took over as trainer over in August 2012.
Jimmy Creed was back on the track Thursday for a gallop, one morning after he
worked three furlongs in :35, second-fastest work for the distance at Santa
Anita that day. The short work was meant as his last bit of fine-tuning for
Saturday's Sprint that has drawn a full field of 14.
The three-year-old son of Distorted Humor "came out of that breeze just
fine," trainer Richard Mandella said. "We really didn't ask him for all that
much yesterday. He basically worked under a hold."
Just as Amazombie will be trying to defend his title in the Sprint, champion Musical Romance
will be doing the same in the Filly & Mare Sprint.
For trainer and co-owner Bill Kaplan, this year's race will prove a bittersweet moment for the longtime conditioner who
likely will bid farewell to his Eclipse Award-winning female sprinter following her
run on Saturday.
"She's made my job a whole lot more fun these past few years," Kaplan said.
"It's going to be really difficult saying goodbye."
Musical Romance, who has run 40 times in a career that dates back to
September 2009, is scheduled to pass through sales ring at the Fasig-Tipton
November sale. The five-year-old daughter of Concorde's Tune has won stakes on dirt, turf and
synthetic tracks, at distances ranging from 5 1/2 furlongs to one mile.
"She's really a unique mare," Kaplan said. "Not only is she a Breeders' Cup
champ, she is just an amazing animal. She has run 40 times and is a world-class
sprinter, and that just doesn't happen; horses like that don't last. She runs on
anything, and she is as sound today as she was back in her first race. She's one
of a kind."
In order for Musical Romance to end her career with a successful title
defense in the Filly & Mare Sprint, and perhaps as a repeat Eclipse Award
champion, she will have to take down current divisional leader Groupie Doll, who
enters the race having won four straight stakes.
"For any horse to go out there and win those races the way she has, by
daylight, is impressive," Kaplan said of his rival. "We've faced her three times
this year and she's beat us twice (in the Madison and Humana Distaff, both Grade
while we got her once in the race at Gulfstream (Grade 2 Inside Information).
"But they did meet again, you know? Groupie Doll flew here with us from
Keeneland and was in the next stall over from us; they were side-by-side on the
flight. And my assistant Freddie (Guzman) told me that for much of the flight,
Musical Romance was eyeballing her. So who knows, maybe she put the evil eye on
"All kidding aside, I believe my mare is better this year than she was last
year, and we have no excuses at all going into the race."
Groupie Doll, the morning-line even-money favorite for the Filly & Mare
Sprint, jogged one mile and galloped another eight furlongs shortly after 7 a.m.
(PDT) Thursday morning with regular exercise rider Jada Schlenk aboard.
"She was very relaxed this morning," said Maria Kabel, assistant to trainer
and part-owner Buff Bradley. "She will go out about six tomorrow morning and she
is scheduled to school in the paddock with the first race tomorrow."
Bradley and his father, Fred, with whom he bred Groupie Doll, were
scheduled to arrive in Southern California later Thursday morning.
Rajiv Maragh, who has been aboard Groupie Doll in her past five starts of
which the past four have been daylight victories, will have the mount Saturday.
"The first time Rajiv worked her, she went a half-mile in :46 and he told Buff
that he was going to win the Breeders' Cup on this horse," said Kabel, who has
lived on the Bradleys' farm in Frankfort, Kentucky, for 14 years and galloped Groupie
Doll's dam, Deputy Doll.
Filly & Mare Sprint runner Rumor also took to the track early Thursday
morning. The Indian Charlie filly, a winner in five of 11 starts, was out at 6 a.m. for a jog
alongside one of trainer Richard Mandella's stable ponies.
"She's been a good, steady filly for us," Mandella stated as he walked back
to his Santa Anita barn.
Mandella was confident ahead of Saturday's race. "She'll knock 'em to their knees," he said with a smile.
If pressed, Mandella probably would have confessed the fact that his
statement might have been slightly influenced by the lady who walked at his
side, Dell Hancock of Kentucky's famous Claiborne Farm, part owner of Rumor.
Hancock, in from Kentucky the day before, talked about her filly's entry in
the Filly & Mare Sprint.
"We were trying to decide whether or not to run her in the race and going
'round and 'round," she said. "Then in the end, we said, 'Let's just leave it up
to Richard.' He's so good with the horses -- he always puts them first -- that we
knew he'd do the right thing. I believe in him 100 percent. If he said to put
her in the race, then I'd know he thought we'd have a shot. So we're in, and now
we'll see how we do."
Hancock was asked if this might possibly be Rumor's last run; if she might be
headed back to Kentucky as part of the Claiborne broodmare band.
"Let's see how she runs in this race first," she said. "It's not like she's
had a lot of races."
Great Hot, the 30-1 morning-line longshot for the Filly & Mare Sprint, jogged
1 1/2 miles for trainer A.C. Avila, who conceded that Groupie
Doll was the horse to beat in the race, having won four straight since the
addition of blinkers.
Avila also said that track condition could be a major factor in the race.
"If it's hard like it was earlier in the meeting, there's going to be a lot
of winners from the front. With this (warm) weather, they're going to have to
put a lot of water on the track," Avila noted.
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