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Breeders Cup 2015

Santa Anita: Amazombie to Work in the Dark

Bill Spawr rarely works his horses by the dawn’s very early light. The 72-year-old trainer prefers to send his horses out well before sunrise, when the racing surface is in pristine condition and not cluttered with a plethora of hoof prints and competing workers.


Such will be the case again Friday morning, when Spawr is scheduled to work Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie six furlongs at 5 a.m. in preparation for his overdue 2012 debut in the Grade II San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs on Feb. 25.


Which raises the question: how do horse and rider negotiate their way safely around the track in the dark?


“Other senses come in to play for both horse and human,”says Chris Aplin, who galloped horses for Spawr from 1980 until 2009, and remains an integral part of his successful operation. The best horse she galloped was Spawr’s stakes-winning sprinter, Bordonaro.


“When you’re out there in the dark and you do it every morning, your other senses kick in to adjust to the darkness; your hearing, your balance. Everything intensifies around you so it’s easier for you to understand and navigate in the dark.


“You’re not using just your sight. You have other senses that are helping you. We’re used to the same group of people out there in the mornings at the same time, so you know which trainers are there along with horses and riders.


“You’re familiar with each other but you’re a little more cautious because it’s in the dark, so you’re paying more attention than you would if it was light and there was a lot to look at.”



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