01/19/2012 2:06PM

Santa Anita: Amazombie scratches from Palos Verdes, Courtside new favorite

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Benoit Photo
Following the scratch of Amazombie, Courtside was made the 9-5 favorite for the Palos Verdes.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Amazombie, the champion sprinter of 2011, was scratched from Saturday’s $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita after rain fell early in the day.

Trainer Bill Spawr said repeatedly in the build-up to the Grade 2 Palos Verdes that he was reluctant to start Amazombie if considerable rain fell and the track was left as wet-fast, and firm.

With an hour to post time for Saturday’s first race, the track was listed as wet-fast, with the possibility of further rain through the afternoon.

Amazombie was the 9-5 favorite on the morning-line for the Palos Verdes Stakes, run over six furlongs. The race would have been his first start since a win in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs in November. Canonize, a 20-1 outsider on the morning-line, was also scratched.

Friday, in advance of a potential scratch, Spawr said the $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes on the hillside turf course on Jan. 28, or the $200,000 San Carlos Stakes over seven furlongs on Feb. 25 could be Amazombie’s next start.

The absence of Amazombie and Canonize leave a field of six for the Palos Verdes, including Euroears, the winner of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar last July; Courtside, the winner of the California Cup Sprint in October; and M One Rifle, the winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes here in 2009.

On a revised morning-line, Courtside was made the 9-5 morning-line favorite over Mensa Heat, the winner of the On Trust Handicap for California-breds at Hollywood Park last month, who was listed at 5-2.

Mensa Heat has impressed trainer Ted H. West with his recent training.

“He’s definitely feeling good,” West said. “He’s put on a lot of weight. He was a docile guy, and now he pushes you around.”

A sloppy track does not concern West. “He’s run well on synthetic, turf or dirt, so it’s not a matter of whether he’ll like it,” he said.

Courtside and Euroears are capable of winning, and could have done so even with Amazombie in the field.

Trainer John Sadler deliberately gave the now 4-year-old Courtside a break after the Cal Cup Sprint, focusing on 2012. “I wanted to give him more time to mature,” Sadler said.

Owned by breeders Lee and Susan Searing, Courtside began his career in maiden claimers. The Palos Verdes will be his graded stakes debut, and would be made much easier without a toughie such as Amazombie in the field.

Either way, Sadler thinks the speedy Courtside can be a factor. “I’ve got a good draw for a race with speed,” he said.

The Palos Verdes is scheduled to be the final career start for Euroears, who will go to stud later this winter in Oklahoma. Euroears is winless in three starts since the Bing Crosby, a span that includes a last-place finish in the BC Sprint and a fourth as the 8-5 favorite in the Grade 3 Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 26.

In that race, Euroears was at the back of the field and not near the lead, as he was in the Bing Crosby. “We tried taking him back, but he’s got to be up there,” trainer Bob Baffert said.

Chances are Euroears will be near the front in the Palos Verdes.