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.