The best is yet to come from Amazombie. So says a man who knows, Hall
of Fame jockey Mike
Smith, who has ridden the California-bred gelding 16 times in his 23
career starts, crossing the wire first 10 times, (he was disqualified
from winning the Los Angeles Handicap last May and placed third).
Their landmark victory came in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at
Churchill Downs last Nov. 5, when Smith guided Amazombie to a neck
victory at 7-1 under 126 pounds in the six furlong race. That triumph
earned Amazombie an Eclipse Award as outstanding male sprinter of 2011.
The 46-year-old Hall of Fame jockey reunites with Amazombie for
the first time since that unforgettable win when he rides the 6-year-old
son of Northern Afleet Saturday in the Grade II, $200,000 San Carlos
Stakes at seven furlongs.
Amazombie, who has earned $1,525,708, was scheduled to make his
2012 debut in the Palos Verdes Stakes on Jan. 21, but was scratched due
to an off track. Now comes the countdown to Saturday, when Smith and
trainer Bill Spawr, who owns Amazombie with Tom Sanford, hope the San
Carlos leads to their ultimate goal: another chance for gold and glory
in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 3, this year on their home course,
Santa Anita Park.
“We ain’t seen the best of him,” said Smith, who is just 11 wins
shy of 5,000 in his illustrious career. “I know he’s getting older, but
man, he’s just getting right. I mean in November (for the Breeders’
Cup), Bill had him really, really good, but from the looks of things,
and you don’t know it till they run, but he seems to have even gotten
“I know Alex (Bisono, who has worked Amazombie in his last few
drills leading to the San Carlos) knows he has. He told me the other day
the horse is a machine, and he never said that about him before. Bill
is beside himself with this horse right now.
“I know the horse is doing well. It’s just a matter of getting
the trip. There’re going to be some fast ones in there, and he won’t be
far off them himself. He’ll be a little fresh first time back. Hopefully
he’ll settle two, three, four lengths off of it and come with a run.
“He’s learned how to run now. He’s gotten really smart about it.
He’s got a good cruising speed and I mean he just punches that last
quarter of a mile. He just does enough (to win). He’s gotten like
Zenyatta used to do—just enough.
“She never was one to want to go away and win by 10. He’s the
same way. The Breeders’ Cup, he could have drawn away. I was pretty well
within myself at the wire; he was just waiting. He got to ‘em quick and
easy and got on by them and opened up a half a length and won only by a
neck because he was waiting. But once he got back to his neck (lead),
he locked on them.”
In other San Carlos news:
Bob Baffert said he would work The Factor on Tuesday before
deciding whether or not to run the Malibu Stakes winner in the San
Mensa Heat worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track
Sunday in 1:11.20 with Joe Talamo aboard. “He worked great,” trainer Ted
H. West said of the On Trust Handicap winner, who was third last out in
the Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes on Jan. 21.