Amazombie – On
Halloween morning, Amazombie rose from the straw (of his stall) and proceeded
out into the predawn fog. A scene
dramatic enough for the opener of a horror film.
But Bill Spawr is a thoroughbred trainer, not a movie
director. And the most appropriately named horse for the holiday, also the $1.5
million Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint defending champion, was routinely put
through a 6f jog and 1 ½m gallop under exercise rider Javier Meza. The same as
he'd done the day before, and the day before that.
"It is Halloween, isn't it," Spawr said when the
subject was mentioned. Then he resumed focus on the exercise by the 6yo winner
of more than $1.3 million that Spawr owns in a 75%-25% partnership with Thomas
"It was foggy and you couldn't see much," Spawr
said. "But when he came down the stretch and got in some company he was
pulling the last sixteenth of a mile."
Spawr plans a breeze for Thursday morning as a final serious
tune-up before sending out Amazombie with the intention of becoming the second
horse to win consecutive Sprint runnings after Midnight Lute (2007-08).
How Amazombie got his Halloween-appropriate name is part of
the great unknown.
The son of Northern Afleet had the moniker when obtained by
Spawr as part of a two-horse package. Spawr consulted with Sanford regarding
changing the name, but both thought it was "cool" as is. Attempts to
find out who named the horse and why have been unsuccessful.
"Nobody knows," Spawr said. "We asked the
breeders, they didn't know. We asked the farm manager, he doesn't know. It's a
Boxeur des Rues –
4yo colt galloped 1 1/8m on the main track at Santa Anita Wednesday under
exercise rider Norberto Vasquez.
Bullet – Trainer Bob Baffert had media dates and a round of trick or
treating with his 7-year-old son Bode on his agenda for later in the day, but
Wednesday at 7:45 he was trackside at Santa Anita to watch his contingent of 10
Breeders’ Cup horses train. Three of them – Coil, Capital Account and Fast Bullet
– were out for gallops with his 7:45 or 8:15 sets on a foggy morning at Santa
The Hall of Fame conditioner is a multi-tasking specialist,
directing his riders via walkie talkie for their gallops or works, answering
questions by the bunches and cracking jokes with his crew of owners and
“Coil is good now, but I’m concerned that this distance (6f)
is too short for him. What he does have going for him this time is all the
competition. When he makes the lead, he wants to wait on horses. But there will
be something in front of him to shoot at in this one. You can count on that.
“Capital Account is ready. So ready. But you need a lot of
luck with a horse like him. He’s coming from the back and you need some luck.
Fast Bullet will be on the lead. Oh, yeah, he’ll be there.
Maybe you’ll see a 43 and 4 (fifths) half. It’ll depend on the track. We will
see how fast it is that day. The last time they ran the Sprint here it wasn’t
For the record, the most recent Sprint run at Santa Anita
was in 2009 and was won by longshot Dancing In Silks in 1:08. The year before
at Santa Anita, Baffert had saddled Midnight Lute to win the same race in 1:07.
Gantry – In the
fall of 2011, Louisiana native Ron Faucheux was in search of a horse to start
in the traditional opening day feature at Fair Grounds, the Thanksgiving Day
Handicap. That hunt turned up a gelding named Gantry that had been running in
optional claiming allowance races in New York, and approximately one year later,
the son of Pulpit will start in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
“That was it; we just wanted a horse that was going to be
competitive that day, and maybe in the other sprint stakes they have down
there, but that was it,” Faucheux said. “I believe we were 8-1 in the morning
line that day, but he ran bigger than that and he got up to win by a nose. Then
we went on and swept the sprint stakes from there and really progress as a
“But then after he won the Duncan Kenner, the last of the
Fair Grounds sprint stakes, in 1:08 and change, that’s when we knew we had
something. It takes a special horse to do that at the Fair Grounds. After that,
we knew we had to try him against tougher competition.”
The first opportunity to take on stronger rivals came in the
Churchill Downs Handicap in which Gantry finished third behind Shackleford and
Amazombie. The gelding then shipped to Calder where he won the biggest race of
his career, the Smile Sprint, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race.
Gantry was most recently second in the Temperance Hill
Stakes at Louisiana Downs.
“We really didn’t have him tuned up for that last race,”
Faucheux said of the Temperance Hill. “We gave him some time off after the
Smile and trained him very light going into that race. We were mostly using it
as a work; a true prep race for this. We’re hoping he’ll be peaked-out once
again for this race as he was for the Smile.”
In order to accomplish that goal, Faucheux has employed
similar tactics in advance of the Sprint as he did leading up to the Smile.
“He’s training kind of the same way here as he was going
into the Calder race,” Faucheux said. “We did the same thing; shipped in a
little early to get a work over the track and have a similar strategy. And I
have the same feeling about him now that I did then. I really like the way he’s
been training. He’s gotten really strong once we got him on the surface. That’s
a good sign.”
Hamazing Destiny – The
D. Wayne Lukas sprinter put in his normal 1 1/2m gallop Wednesday morning as
the Hall of Fame trainer moved his two-time Sprint contestant toward a third
time in the race.
The 6yo son of Salt Lake is closing in on millionaire status
and a high finish in the 6f dash could get him to that level. He was second in
his first Sprint try at Churchill Downs in 2010.
Jimmy Creed – Richard
Mandella “got the attention” of the Distorted Humor colt Jimmy Creed Wednesday
morning. He felt he had to.
The Hall of Fame trainer is running three horses in this
weekend’s Breeders’ Cup races and he’s worked two of them the past two days.
Yesterday he sent his 2yo filly Beholder through a nice, easy 3f work in 39 3/5
prior to her Friday start in the Juvenile Fillies. Wednesday morning he sent
Jimmy Creed the same distance, but this time the clock read 35 flat.
“I wanted to give him a sharpener and we got it,” Mandella
said afterward. “Generally I’ve found that with fillies you’re usually wanting
to settle them down. But with colts, you need to get their attention. It wasn’t
that I was trying to put speed on his (Jimmy Creed’s) mind; he’s already got
that. But I want to remind him we’re getting serious and this did the trick.”
The work occurred shortly after 8 a.m. with exercise rider
Janeen Painter in the tack, starting at the quarter pole and going to the
seven-eighths pole. The move was second-best of 12 at the distance at Santa
Anita Wednesday morning.
Justin Phillip – Zayat Stable’s colt was one of five
Breeders’ Cup starters for trainer Steve Asmussen that returned to the track to
gallop Wednesday following 4f workouts Monday.
“They’re all doing
well,” said Asmussen. “They all just had easy gallops. It’s a matter of keeping
them all happy now.”
Smiling Tiger – The
veteran of 21 starts, with earnings of $1.2 million, galloped 1 1/2m Wednesday
before heading to the paddock for schooling later in the morning.
The Jeff Bonde trainee will be making his second start in
the Sprint. He finished third in 2010, right behind Hamazing Destiny, who he
will face again on Saturday.
The Lumber Guy – Trainer
Mike Hushion liked what he saw Wednesday during the 3yo colt’s 1 1/8m gallop.
“He looked better than any other horse out there,” Hushion
said after describing the morning outing for race week exercise as “perfect.”
The Lumber Guy was bred in New York by Barry K. Schwartz,
the former chairman of the New York Racing Association. The gray colt was on
Triple Crown trail early this year and later won the Jerome at Aqueduct. He was
given the summer off to get over some issues with his feet and thrust himself
into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint picture with a resounding victory in the Vosburgh
Invitational on September 29 at Belmont Park.
Hushion said the colt has settled into this new surroundings
at Santa Anita Park after shipping from New York on Monday.
“The outward signs are pretty good,” Hushion said. “There is
plenty for him to look around and see.”
Trinniberg – The
last time Trinniberg wore blinkers in a race was the 2011 Breeders’ Cup
Juvenile Sprint where the colt ran an opening quarter-mile in 20 4/5 before
fading to finish seventh. The colt will wear blinkers once again when starting
in this year’s Sprint, although trainer Shivananda Parbhoo is counting on
a different result.
“Right now I think we need the blinkers back on to keep him
a little more focused, especially in the final eighth” Parbhoo said. “And the
blinkers we’ll use are a short cup, so I don’t think it will be that big of a
Trinniberg, who arrived at Santa Anita on Oct. 15, has
worked twice over the track, blasting 4f moves in 47 and 47 2/5, both with
“Those works were just him,” Parbhoo said of the quick times
recorded. “But he was on a hold the entire way.”
In his last start, the Gallant Bob at Parx Racing,
Trinniberg held the lead late before getting caught in the final yards, beaten
a half-length by a closer that came from last while racing down the center of
“After the race, the first question I had for (jockey)
Willie (Martinez) was whether he saw the horse on the outside,” Parbhoo said.
“And he said ‘no.’ I said ‘that’s ok; that’s fine.’ After Willie took the lead
at the eighth pole, he didn’t see anyone behind him. That considered, I thought
it was a great race.”
As for the Sprint, Parbhoo believes Trinniberg can come from
off the pace if necessary, and at this point is not committing to a strategy.
“I think we’re going to try and avoid going to the lead in
this race if we can,” Parbhoo said. “We drew the perfect post (9) and from
there we can settle in a good spot up close, but not on the lead. Then again,
maybe he just goes. We’ll find out on race day what happens.”