05/03/2012 12:37PM

Churchill Downs: Amazombie tries to stretch speed to seven furlongs in Churchill Downs Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Amazombie is back at Churchill Downs for Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Churchill Downs Stakes.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – While everyone knows it’s the first Saturday in May, one glance at the field assembled for the Grade 2, $400,000 Churchill Downs Stakes would suggest it’s the first Saturday in November.

It was the first Saturday last November when Amazombie secured the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter with a neck victory over Force Freeze in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs. Amazombie returns to Churchill on Saturday, where he meets two graduates of last year’s BC Sprint as well as the second- and third-place finishers from the 2010 Sprint in the seven-furlong Churchill Downs.

In two starts this year, Amazombie finished third to The Factor in the San Carlos and came back with a three-quarter-length victory over Roman Threat in the Potrero Grande at Santa Anita on April 7.

“He never even pulled out the stick out,” trainer Bill Spawr said, referring to jockey Mike Smith in the Potrero Grande. “He just hand rode him.”

Spawr wasn’t necessarily thinking of running in this race until he was alerted that the purse had been raised to $400,000 from $300,000. Though Amazombie is 0 for 2 at seven furlongs, Spawr said Smith told him he would get the distance at Churchill no problem.

“He said the way he skips over this track he could run a mile here,” said Spawr, who sent Amazombie out for a three-furlong blowout in 36 seconds Thursday morning.

Amazombie, who figures to come from off the pace, is drawn nicely in post 6 in the eight-horse field.

Apriority was beaten a nose by Aikenite in this race last year, and trainer David Fawkes noted his horse got bumped when between horses at the quarter pole.

“He looked like a ping-pong ball, his feet are off the ground,” Fawkes said.

Apriority comes off a half-length loss in the Count Fleet at Oaklawn, a race in which Fawkes felt jockey Rafael Bejarano had his horse too far out of it early.

Bejarano is back aboard from post 3.

The multiple Grade 1 winner Smiling Tiger makes his first start since Aug. 28, when he finished fourth in the Grade 1 Pat O’Brien at Del Mar. He came out of the race with a bruised foot and was given the remainder of the year off.

“We could’ve run a horse that was 90 percent in the Breeders’ Cup, but we chose the high road and decided to give him time off, and he’s come back absolutely super for it,” said Mersad Metanovic, racing manager for owners Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz.

Gantry, winner of four consecutive six-furlong sprints, takes on graded company for the first time on dirt. Preakness winner Shackleford comes off a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct last out.

Alma d’Oro, Hamazing Destiny, and Will’s Wildcat complete the field.

Churchill Downs Stakes (G2), Post Time: 2:08 ET Saturday

Purse: $400,000; 7 furlongs

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Smiling Tiger

J. Bonde

J. Rosario

3-1

1

Alma d'Oro

T. Pletcher

J. Castellano

10-1

1

Apriority

D. Fawkes

R. Bejarano

8-1

1

Shackleford

D. Romans

J. Castanon

2-1

1

Hamazing Destiny

D. Lukas

C. Nakatani

15-1

1

Amazombie

W. Spawr

M. Smith

5-2

1

Gantry

R. Faucheux

R. Eramia

20-1

1

Will's Wildcat

J. Baker

C. Borel

12-1

 

chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
There you have it, results just in I LOVE THIS HORSE!!! Talk about honest???
Brandon More than 1 year ago
so not winning since ther preakness warrant favortism? ML odds have been terrible all weekend. Amoz will be 9/5 in gate.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Brandon, I'm not touting any horse in here. I'm noting the bond between horse and man. Do you know of the man and horse I mentioned? LkTya
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
I think there's a thing between Romans and Shackleford. This is not a small racehorse. I think he might be near as big as Dale. He has danced every set - hooked all the nuts and never failed to show up and has never shamed himself. I have no clue what that racetrack will be like tomorrow but it don't matter. If Shack can get it goin' and hang with this bunch manana then there's a thing between me and Shack too! This pair is beginning to remind me of Buddy Raines and See The USA. I hope they are together as long.