If all goes as planned, Amazombie will take the exact same path as last year when he captured the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I), using the Triple Bend, Bing Crosby, and Ancient Title (all gr. I) as springboards.
The 2011 national male sprint champion is coming off a runner-up finish to Shackleford in the Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) May 5 in Louisville. Shackleford returned to action May 28 with a nose victory in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I).
“I’m probably 75-80 percent sure he’ll go in the Triple Bend,” said trainer Bill Spawr May 31 of his 6-year-old California-bred gelding by Northern Afleet . "His last race, the trip and all, really tired him out. But he’s back to normal now. He tried to run off this morning, which he’s never done. He’s really sharp now."
The Triple Bend Handicap, contested at seven furlongs, is June 30 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
“If I have any doubt at all, just the slightest doubt (about the Triple Bend), I’ll wait for the Bing Crosby because I have to win the Ancient Title," Spawr added. "That’s my goal. The Breeders’ Cup, you have to be lucky to win that, but I have to win the Ancient Title because it’s a ‘Win and You’re In.’ It’s a huge, huge difference. I didn’t believe how important it is until I won it last year.”
This year's Breeders' Cup is at Santa Anita Park. Spawr had to travel to Churchill Downs for last year's championships.
Sizing up this year’s competition, Spawr wasn’t shy. When asked about the decisive victory by Roman Threat in the Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III) on Memorial Day, the trainer replied “Bring him on. We already beat him easy.”
Though the official chart shows Amazombie defeating Roman Threat by three-quarters of a length in the Potrero Grande (gr. II) April 7, Spawr said the margin is deceiving.
“Did you see my rider (Mike Smith), he could have opened up any time he wanted. Did you see Shackleford run (in the Met Mile)? He defeated all the ‘world beaters' on the East coast. Shackleford will never run against us going six or six and a half furlongs because he wouldn’t have a shot. He’s not going to run that short because he’s going to catch horses like The Factor , who’s going to go (a half mile in) 43 (seconds). He can’t do that.
“Take nothing away from that horse, he’s a good horse. We would have liked to win the race the other day (when second to Shackleford in the Churchill Downs Stakes), but things didn’t go right. I know that and the people with the horse know that. But we were pleased to run second to that horse. They were five or six in front of the others and some of them have already come back to win.
“We probably had our best day of the year Monday when Shackleford won that race and Roman Threat won the Los Angeles. It more than flatters us.”
Amazombie breezed three furlongs in 36 flat May 28 at Hollywood Park, his first official drill since returning from Kentucky.
”I feel so confident in the horse,’’ said Spawr. “I think he’s even stronger than last year. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”