07/29/2012 9:50PM

Del Mar: Amazombie pulls clear to take Bing Crosby Stakes over The Factor


DEL MAR, Calif. – Last year, Amazombie came into the Grade 1 Bing Crosby just 29 days after a race at Hollywood Park. Given nearly three months between races for this year’s Crosby on Sunday at Del Mar, Amazombie improved upon his third-place finish of a year ago while outfinishing the speedy The Factor to win the $300,000 sprint race named for one of this track’s founders.

In doing so, Amazombie ran the fastest six furlongs of the meet (1:08.65) and served notice that, as the defending Eclipse Award and Breeders’ Cup winner in the sprint division, he will be a formidable hurdle for anyone looking to take his crown this fall.

“He’s stronger,” said Bill Spawr, who trains Amazombie, 6, and owns him along with Tom Sanford. “We feel – training him – there’s more muscle to him.”

Amazombie ($5.80), the second choice, got a perfect trip under jockey Mike Smith. He sat third early, in the clear, while Comma to the Top outsprinted The Factor for the early lead through fractions of 22.39 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 44.50 seconds – a withering 22.11-second quarter – for the half-mile.

Amazombie took over inside the furlong pole and pulled clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths over The Factor, who held off his Bob Baffert-trained stablemate, Capital Account, by a head for second.

Comma to the Top was fourth, just 1 1/4 lengths behind Capital Account, and Don Tito trailed in the field of five.

The victory was the first of the meet for Smith, who has ridden sparingly and earlier in the day watched Paynter, whom he rode in the Belmont, run away to a win in the Haskell.

“It took a good one to get me to the winner’s circle,” Smith said.

Amazombie, a gelding, has now won 12 times in 27 starts. This was only his second race on Del Mar’s Polytrack, a surface over which Spawr believes he is not at his best.

”He prefers dirt,” Spawr said. “He ran well today because he’s stronger, but he prefers dirt.”

Spawr said Amazombie will follow the same schedule he had last year, when he had one race following the Crosby prior to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. His next start will be the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, a race Amazombie won last year when it was called the Ancient Title.