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Amazombie Eyes Potrero Grande Repeat

Amazombie , ridden by jockey Mike Smith and trained by Bill Spawr wins the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) at at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on November 5, 2011.

The Potrero Grande was the vehicle that launched Amazombie on his ascent to Breeders’ Cup stardom and a subsequent Eclipse Award last year, as it provided the California-bred son of Northern Afleet with his first graded stakes victory for trainer Bill Spawr, who co-owns the gelding with Thomas Sanford.


A repeat in the six-and-one-half furlong event will get Amazombie back on track after finishing third behind The Factor in the Grade II San Carlos Stakes on Feb. 25, his return to racing after scoring at 7-1 in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.


He will face no easy task in his second start of 2012 in a field of nine that includes trainer Jeff Bonde’s Sway Away, who defeated Amazombie by 1 ¾ lengths when second in the San Carlos, and trainer Mike Mitchell’s Camp Victory, who has twice beaten Amazombie. The Potrero Grande will be contested as the day’s ninth race.


Mike Smith, who regularly rides Amazombie, welcomes a field larger than the five that took part in the San Carlos. “It would have been nicer if there were more horses and a little more pace,” Smith commented after the San Carlos. “The first race back going seven-eighths is always really tough, especially with those caliber or horses.


”I’m happy with the way he ran,” the Hall of Fame jockey continued. “He only got beat a couple of lengths for all of it against some top notch horses. I was happy with his race, and I know he has a whole lot of room to improve.”


Amazombie comes into Saturday’s Grade II sprint with earnings of $1,549,708 from a 10-4-6 record in 24 lifetime starts. The only two-time winner of the Potrero Grande in 29 runnings was Bruce Headley’s Kona Gold, victorious in 2000 as well as the following year.


Sway Away, a 4-year-old son of Afleet Alex, returned from eight months on the sidelines to run second in the San Carlos. With Bejarano back aboard, he will be seeking his first stakes victory on Saturday even though he has been the runner-up in three Grade II stakes races. He has compiled a 2-3-0 record in eight starts while earning $197,800 for a partnership headed by Batman Stable.


Camp Victory has not been out since finishing seventh in the Grade II Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. The Virginia-bred son of Forest Camp was victorious over Amazombie in Hollywood Park’s Grade III Los Angeles Handicap last May after the latter was disqualified to second for a bumping incident at the eighth pole. Camp Victory also got the better of the eventual Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion one race later when second to Amazombie’s third behind Smiling Tiger in the Grade I Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park.


Trained by Mitchell for the partnership of Roger Featherston, Gordon Jacobsen and Tom Miller, the 5-year-old gelding was claimed for $40,000 in February of last year. He shows career earnings of $337,986 from a 7-3-0 record in 20 races. Joe Talamo will ride.


The complete field for the Potrero Grande Stakes, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Sway Away, Bejarano, 118; Amazombie, Smith, 123; Mensa Heat, Gomez, 118; Smart Spending, Rosario, 118; Roman Threat, Garcia, 118; Camp Victory, Talamo, 118; Courtside, Antonio Castanon, 118; Thunder of Zion, Alex Bisono, 118, and Thinking of Girls, Daniel Vergara, 118.



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