01/18/2012 4:38PM

Santa Anita: Amazombie, Mensa Heat uncertain to start in Palos Verdes

Shigeki Kikkawa
If the track is wet and sealed on Saturday for the Palos Verdes, Amazombie may be scratched, according to trainer Bill Spawr.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Weather and track conditions will dictate whether Amazombie, the 2011 champion sprinter, starts in Saturday’s $150,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita, and if the stakes winner Mensa Heat is among the competition.

Trainers Bill Spawr and Ted H. West were as focused on the weekend forecast on Wednesday as they were on the condition of their respective runners.

As of late morning on Wednesday, there was a 30 percent chance of rain on Saturday, according to weather.com. Conditions have been dry at Santa Anita since the meeting opened on Dec. 26, and the prospects of wet weather this weekend has made trainers anxious.

“If they seal the track too tight, he won’t run,” Spawr said. “You don’t pass anyone on this track, but it’s gotten better in the last week.

“If I get beat, I want to get beat by a better horse and not the surface or a bias.”

Amazombie was honored with the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding sprinter of 2011 at a ceremony in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Monday. A 6-year-old gelding, Amazombie has not started since winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.

Spawr said that Amazombie has thrived this week.

“He tried to run off yesterday,” he said. “He never does that. I think he knows that he won the Eclipse.

“We’re looking forward to it,” he said of the Palos Verdes. “But what they do with the track will determine it.”

Spawr said that if Amazombie does not start in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes over six furlongs that he does not have a replacement race in mind.

Mensa Heat, the winner of the On Trust Handicap at Hollywood Park last month, could start in the $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes over 1 1/16 miles for statebreds on Jan. 28 if he does not run on Saturday.

“I’m pretty confused right now,” West said of his plans. “We’ll find a race for him. This track is speed favoring. If you put a seal on it, it will be more speed-favoring.”

One horse certain to start is M One Rifle, the winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes in 2009 and two other stakes. A 6-year-old gelding trained by Bruce Headley, M One Rifle was third in the Grade 3 Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 26.

The Palos Verdes drew a field of eight, including Euroears, the winner of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar last July.