By Jack Shinar, Blood-Horse
Sprint champion Amazombie returned to his best form in the $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I), sitting just off a hot pace and coming to get the leaders in deep stretch to win going away on the Polytrack at Del Mar July 29.
Aiming at a return to the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) this fall, Amazombie earned his third grade I victory for trainer Bill Spawr, who co-owns the 6-year-old California-bred son of Northern Afleet along with Thomas Sanford.
Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith earned his first victory of the Del Mar meet aboard Amazombie, who sped six furlongs in a sizzling 1:08.65 to win by 1 1/4 lengths.
Multiple grade I winner The Factor and stablemate Capital Account, both trained by Bob Baffert, finished second and third, respectively, in the field of five.
Amazombie raced in the garden spot in third, saving ground about three lengths off the pacesetters as Comma to the Top popped the gate and led The Factor down the backstretch through an opening quarter mile in :22.39. The Factor, ridden by Martin Garcia, increased the pressure on Comma to the Top while a half-length away as they reached the quarter pole in a swift :44.50. In the stretch, those two continued to battle with The Factor getting his head in front. Smith, though, angled Amazombie off the rail and put the big gelding to a drive. Amazombie joined the leaders under strong handling on the outside, getting the lead past the sixteenth pole and proving much the best.
The Factor, the even-money choice, was weakening late but held second by a head over the oncoming Capital Account, ridden by David Flores.
Winning for the second time in four starts in 2012, Amazombie had been freshened by Spawr following a runner-up finish to Shackleford in the seven-furlong Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) in Louisville on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 5. Amazombie won the Potrero Grande Stakes (gr. II) a month before that.
Gregg Anderson bred Amazombie, who is out of Wilshe Amaze, by In Excess.
Spawr said afterward that Amazombie would target the former Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I), now named the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, in October as a prep for this year's Breeders' Cup Sprint. Amazombie won both of those races last year in his championship campaign.
Amazombie won for the fifth time in seven tries at the six-furlong distance. His overall career mark stands at 12-5-6 in 27 races with earnings of $1,905,378.
Sharing top weight of 123 pounds with The Factor, Amazombie paid $5.80, $2.60, and $2.10 as the 9-5 second choice. The Factor, who dropped his third decision in four tries at six furlongs, returned $2.40 and $2.10. Capital Account, making his stakes debut for Baffert, paid $2.20.
Comma to the Top weakened to fourth and was followed home by Don Tito.
For an Equibase chart, click here.