04/07/2012 7:23PM

Santa Anita: Amazombie looks better than ever in Potrero Grande

Benoit & Associates
Champion sprinter Amazombie provides jockey Mike Smith with his 5,000th career victory in the Potrero Grande.

ARCADIA, Calif. – As good as Amazombie was last year, when he won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and was named the sport’s champion male sprinter, he might be better this year. And with the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita this year, his trainer and co-owner, Bill Spawr, wants to do everything possible to get back to the BC Sprint.

Amazombie had a dress rehearsal on Saturday, winning the Grade 2, $150,000 Potrero Grande Handicap while providing his jockey, Mike Smith, with the 5,000th victory of his career. He ran down Roman Threat to win the 6 1/2-furlong race by three-quarters of a length in a swift 1:14.16 on the fast main track. Camp Victory was another length back in third.

Sway Away was fourth and was followed, in order, by Mensa Heat and Thinking of Girls. Courtside, Smart Spending, and Thunder of Zion were scratched.

“We want to go to the Breeders’ Cup,” Spawr said. “This is one of the steps to get there.”

Amazombie won the Potrero Grande last year, and his 2012 campaign will mirror last year’s. What has Spawr most encouraged is that he says Amazombie, now 6, “weighs 60 or 70 pounds more than he did” last year.

“And it’s all muscle,” Spawr said. “He’s stronger.”

Amazombie ($4.60), the favorite, was second to Roman Threat through fractions of 22.02 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 43.95 seconds for a half-mile, but it always looked like he was in control.

“He only let him run a quarter-mile,” Spawr said of Smith.

Spawr owns Amazombie along with Tom Sanford. Amazombie has now won 11 times in 25 starts, and the $90,000 winner’s share brought the gelding’s lifetime total to $1,639,708.

Spawr said Amazombie would make his next start in the Tiznow Stakes for California-breds at Hollywood Park. He won that race last year, too.