01/05/2012 12:22PM

2011 Eclipse Awards: Amazombie

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Rags-to-riches is a favorite theme among racing fans, and a California-bred gelding named Amazombie was only too willing to fill that order in 2011. A mere throw-in in a $5,000 two-horse deal as a yearling, Amazombie turned back all comers in winning the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs to cap an unforgettable season for his trainer, Bill Spawr, who co-owns the gelding with Thomas Sanford.

Amazombie had raced 14 times before Spawr, a longtime veteran of the Southern California circuit, decided to test him in stakes company to begin his 5-year-old campaign in January 2011. The race was the restricted Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita, with Amazombie winning by a head as an 11-1 outsider.

[MORE: Complete list of 2011 Eclipse Awards finalists | Vote for Horse of the Year and win]

Campaigning strictly on his home circuit, Amazombie then was second in the Sensational Star on turf, won the Grade 2 Potrero Grande on dirt, won the Tiznow on synthetic, then was disqualified from first to third for interference in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap. He then finished third in back-to-back Grade 1 races, the Triple Bend and Bing Crosby, before stamping his ticket to Louisville by grinding out a victory in the Grade 1 Ancient Title at Santa Anita.

Spawr, 72, said he most likely would not have run Amazombie in the Breeders’ Cup if he had not won the Ancient Title, one in a series of fortunate twists that had Amazombie spiraling toward the pinnacle of his division. Sent off at nearly 8-1 among the nine horses in the $1.5 million BC Sprint, he raced in midpack down the backstretch before gaining steadily with an outside run. Down the stretch, he forged ahead of a stubborn Force Freeze and was kept to pressure to prevail by a neck.

“This is like a fairy tale,” said Spawr, who was registering his first Breeders’ Cup triumph. “I’ve never had a horse that cost so little turn out as good as he has – but then, who has?”

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith rode Amazombie in all but one of his 2011 races, with the lone exception coming in the restricted Tiznow at Hollywood Park in April, when Joel Rosario was aboard.

Amazombie, bred by the late Gregg Anderson, is by Northern Afleet out of the In Excess mare Wilshe Amaze. He was never worse than third in his nine 2011 starts, winning five times and earning $1,327,000. Before his meteoric rise through the sprint ranks in 2011, Amazombie compiled 5 wins from 14 starts at 3 and 4 while racing exclusively on turf and synthetics. He was gelded early in his 4-year-old season. In his last two races in 2010, Amazombie was risked for a $62,500 claiming tag, but fortunately for Spawr and Sanford, no one went in for him.

Spawr said he has tentatively outlined a six-race schedule for Amazombie at 6, starting with the Palos Verdes this month at Santa Anita and ending with a defense of his BC Sprint title on Nov. 3, also at Santa Anita.

 

Date Track Race Finish Chart Distance Time Beyers Video
11/5/11 CD BC Sprint 1st 6 furlongs 1:09.17 107 Video
10/8/11 SA Ancient Title 1st 6 furlongs 1:08.24 104 Video
7/31/11 DMR Bing Crosby 3rd 6 furlongs 1:08.17 100 Video
7/2/11 HOL Triple Bend 3rd 7 furlongs 1:21.22 99 Video
5/30/11 HOL Los Angeles 3rd 6 furlongs 1:08.87 108 Video
4/3/11 SA Potrero Grande 1st 6 1/2 furlongs 1:14.26 102 Video

Amazombie

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Breeder: Gregg Anderson  
Trainer: William Spawr 
Owner: Sanford, Thomas C. and Spawr, William
Record: 22-9-4-5
Best Beyer: 108