11/07/2011 4:05PM

Breeders' Cup Sprint rematch may be down the line

Barbara D. Livingston
Amazombie (left), with Mike Smith up, defeats Force Freeze by a neck in the BC Sprint.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Amazombie defeated Force Freeze by a neck to capture Saturday’s $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and the connections of both are already making plans that could put them on the path to a rematch in the 2012 Sprint at Santa Anita.

Amazombie capped off a glorious four weeks for trainer Bill Spawr and his partner Thomas Sanford by wearing down and then holding off a final surge from the game Force Freeze to win the six-furlong Sprint. Amazombie, a gelded son of Northern Afleet who Spawr acquired as a throw-in on a horse purchase made several years ago, earned his way into the Sprint by virtue of his victory in the Grade 1 Ancient Title on Oct. 8 at Santa Anita.

Spawr said Saturday that had Amazombie not won the Win and You’re In Ancient Title he would have likely bypassed the Breeders’ Cup in lieu of the California Cup Sprint the weekend before last at Santa Anita. He also said he was a bit leery of how Amazombie, who had never raced outside his native California before the Breeders’ Cup, would handle a Churchill Downs main track that had retained some moisture following heavy rain earlier in the week.

“I didn’t know how he was going to do on the track,” said Spawr. “He’d never dealt with anything like that in California but in the end it worked out fine.”

Amazombie, who is now the favorite to win an Eclipse Award as the nation’s premier sprinter in 2011, returned to California on Monday. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 107 for his performance in the Sprint.

“I’ll probably just walk him for a month,” said Spawr. “I’ve already drawn up a plan for what we’re going to do with him next year and the plan is to try and win another one.”

Trainer Peter Walder has the same idea in mind for Force Freeze who, like Amazombie, is a gelding and will definitely return to racing in 2012. Walder said Force Freeze will spend a month on the farm in Ocala before rejoining his stable at Gulfstream Park.

“We’re going to map out a plan to get him back to the Breeders’ Cup next year that will probably begin with a race this winter at Gulfstream Park and hopefully a return trip to Louisville for the Churchill Downs Sprint on Derby day,” said Walder. “I am thankful just to have gotten to the Breeders’ Cup with him this year, but when you get that close, it’s kind of disappointing.”

Jackson Bend, who finished third as the favorite in the Sprint, will also winter at Gulfstream Park and could join Amazombie and Force Freeze in a rematch of Saturday’s top three finishers in the 2012 Sprint.

One member of Saturday’s Sprint field who will not return next season is Big Drama, the 2010 Sprint winner and Eclipse Award champion, who has been retired, his trainer David Fawkes confirmed on Sunday.