06/30/2011 1:18PM

Hollywood Park: Amazombie out to set record straight

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Benoit & Associates
Amazombie, with Mike Smith riding, finishes in front of Camp Victory in the Los Angeles Handicap, only to be disqualified for interference.

INGLEWOOD, Calif.-Mike Smith walked from the racetrack to the jockeys’ room at Hollywood Park with his head down, talking to no one.

The stewards had just disqualified Amazombie from first to third in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap on May 30, and Smith was in no mood to discuss the race.

“I thought he ran a great race,” Smith said of the Los Angeles Handicap. “It was unfortunate that he got taken down.

Nearly five weeks later, Smith’s frustrations have been replaced with anticipation for Amazombie’s appearance in Saturday’s $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap over seven furlongs. Amazombie can win his first Grade 1 in the Triple Bend.

“I think he proved a while back how good he is,” Smith said. “He keeps on doing it.”

In the Los Angeles Handicap, Amazombie was disqualified for a bumping incident in early stretch. He took the lead in the final furlong and finished first in the six-furlong race by a half-length over Camp Victory. The Los Angeles Handicap would have been his third consecutive win, preceded by victories in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Stakes and the Tiznow Stakes for statebreds for owners Thomas Sanford and trainer and co-owner Bill Spawr. A 5-year-old gelding, Amazombie has won 8 of 19 starts and $505,708.

JAY HOVDEY: Triple Bend provides blast from the past »

“We think he’s getting better and getting really smart about running,” Smith said. “He’s learning to relax and he’s a cool customer.”

The Triple Bend drew a strong field, including Camp Victory and M One Rifle, promoted to first and second in the Los Angeles Handicap; Smiling Tiger, a six-time stakes winner; and the 3-year-old Bench Points, who won the Grade 3 Laz Barrera Stakes here in May.

The seven-furlong distance will suit those contenders. At seven furlongs, M One Rifle won the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita in 2009, Smiling Tiger won the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita in February, and Bench Points won the Barrera. Camp Victory has never run seven furlongs, but won an optional claimer over 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita in March and won a $40,000 claimer over a mile on turf at Santa Anita in February. On that day, he was claimed by current trainer Mike Mitchell. Since then, Camp Victory has won 2 of 3 starts.

Joe Talamo will ride Camp Victory for the third consecutive race in the Triple Bend. “I think seven-eighths will suit him more than three quarters,” Talamo said. “Since Mike claimed him, his performances have gone through the roof. I’m excited to ride him.”

The Triple Bend field also includes Uh Oh Bango, the winner of the Grade 3 Berkeley Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on May 30, and the recent allowance race winners Color of Courage and El Martillo.

Amazombie is expected to be favored, but there will massive support for Smiling Tiger, who finished a troubled sixth under jockey Joel Rosario in the Churchill Downs Stakes on May 7.

“He broke good that day,” Rosario said. “I made the decision to get him to relax, and he never had a chance to come from behind. I think he should have been right there.”

Rosario is back aboard Smiling Tiger for the Triple Bend. Similar to Smith, Rosario wants a win on Saturday to erase bad memories of races in May.