Tracking a blazing early pace, Amazombie wore down Force Freeze in the final 100 yards to win the $1,363,500 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) by a neck, giving veteran California trainer Bill Spawr his first Cup win Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs (VIDEO).
Favorite Jackson Bend finished third, beaten by 2 3/4 lengths. The final time for the six furlongs was 1:09.17.
Amazombie, owned by Spawr and Thomas Sanford, came to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships off a win in the Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I) Oct. 8 at Santa Anita. The Sprint was the 5-year-old gelding’s first start outside Southern California.
“I feel very fortunate and very lucky," said Spawr, who will be 72 next month. "After he won the Ancient Title, we decided to send him here. That’s a ‘Win and You’re In’ race, and if it weren’t for the Ancient Title, we wouldn’t be here. There are no words to describe the feeling."
Mike Smith rode the winner, picking up his 14th Breeders' Cup victory. That put him one behind all-time leader Jerry Bailey.
The Sprint winner is a California-bred son of Northern Afleet , out of the In Excess mare Wilshe Amaze. He was bred by Gregg Anderson.
Euroears and Giant Ryan, breaking from the inside, bumped at the start but were hustled to the front along with Force Freeze and those three battled on the front end early. Euroears set a :21.12 opening quarter mile split before Force Free took cotrol on the turn while covering the half mile in :44.41.
Amazombie, fifth early, commenced his bid while four wide on the turn and challenged Force Freeze, who had opened up a clear advantage for John Velazquez in the lane approaching the furlong pole. Those two had separated from the field with Amazombie, on the outside, getting his neck in front and holding on while all out in the final strides.
“When I got on him in the paddock, he took a big, deep breath and was cool, calm and collected," said Smith, Amazombie's regular rider. "I think he actually out-broke the field, but then he settled. I cut the corner with him and then got out. The thing I worry about with this horse is hitting the front too soon; he tends to wait (on horses).”
Jackson Bend launched a mild bid from eighth for Javier Castellano to finish third, 5 1/4 lengths ahead of Aikenite. Completing the order was Hamazing Destiny, Apriority, 2010 Sprint winner Big Drama, Giant Ryan, and Euroears.
The victory, worth $810,000, boosted Amazombie's career earnings to $1,525,708. The bay gelding has a 10-4-5 record in 23 lifetime starts.
Amazombie paid $17.80, $7.40, and $5. Force Freeze returned $7 and $5, while Jackson Bend paid $3.20 to show. The 7-6 exacta paid $145.20.