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BC Sprint Winner Amazombie to 'Old' KY Home

Champion California-bred gelding taking up residence at Old Friends.

Amazombie has a foothold in two statesCalifornia and Kentucky. He was bred in California and did most of his racing there. But his biggest victory came in Kentucky, when he won the 2011 Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.

Thus, it is only fitting that Amazombie gets a taste of retirement in both states. When co-owner and trainer Bill Spawr retired him earlier this year, Amazombie returned to Judd Morse, who gave him his first lessons, at his ranch in San Jacinto, Calif. Now that Morse is relocating to Oklahoma to be near grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Amazombie is heading for Old Friends in Kentucky.

"He's doing well and acting like a kid," said Morse. "He's in about an acre to an acre and-a-half field by himself that's loaded with grass. He's such a nice horse. If I were 20 years younger, I'd ride him."

Amazombie was the pet of the Spawr barn for five years, beloved well before he won the Sprint. He parlayed a victory in the Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I), now renamed the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, into a Breeders' Cup Sprint win. That earned him the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter of 2011.

"Michael Blowen at Old Friends has always been a fan of Amazombie," said Spawr.

Amazombie is slated be flown to Kentucky Oct. 7, the plane also likely to take Game On Dude to Old Friends. The two geldings trained not far from each other at Santa Anita Park, Game On Dude coming from Bob Baffert's barn. They never met in a race however, because Amazombie excelled at sprinting while Game On Dude made his millions competing around two turns.

Amazombie initially began in Jerry Hollendorfer's barn after Morse started him. Gregg Anderson bred the son of Northern Afleet Wilshe Amaze, by In Excess, and because auction prices were depressed at the time, he suggested to Morse that they put the colt in training.

"Amazombie came up with a problem in a hind leg," said Morse. "It wasn't life- or career-threatening, but Jerry thought that he needed a little time."

Amazombie recuperated at Morse's ranch, and while he was there, Anderson died. Morse ultimately had to disperse the breeder's horses, and Spawr came to the ranch to look at another horse by Northern Afleet.

"The other horse had run well in a maiden allowance race," recalled Morse. "But I told Bill he had better take a look at this one too."

It was fortuitous advice. Racing for Spawr and Tom Sanford, Amazombie won 12 of 29 races and earned $1,920,378. Much of that came after Spawr decided Amazombie would make a better gelding than colt because he tended to get nervous and wash out before a race.

With Mike Smith aboard in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Sprint, Amazombie turned in a stellar performance, getting to a five-length lead in the stretch and then holding off a furiously closing Force Freeze to win by a neck, with favored Jackson Bend third.

Amazombie's demeanor allowed him to always train well and even return to Spawr's barn briefly this past summer at Del Mar. He led the post parade for the Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I), a race he won in 2012.

"He doesn't get excited," said Morse. "He's calm and very intelligent."

He has no bad habits either. Blowen recently called Spawr to learn anything he could in order to make the gelding comfortable at Old Friends. Spawr told Blowen that the only thing he needs to look out for is that if he has a carrot in his back pocket, Amazombie will surely ferret it out.