04/10/2012 2:07PM

Santa Anita notes: Amazombie points to Tiznow Stakes

Shigeki Kikkawa
Amazombie gets his first win of 2012 in Saturday’s Potrero Grande.

ARCADIA, Calif – Reigning champion sprinter Amazombie will have two starts at the upcoming Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, with one stakes for California-breds and two graded stakes later in the meeting among the choices.

Amazombie won his first stakes of 2012 in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Stakes at Santa Anita last weekend. In February, Amazombie was third in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes.

Co-owner and trainer Bill Spawr plans to start Amazombie in the $125,000 Tiznow Stakes over 7 1/2 furlongs for California-breds on April 28, followed by the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap over six furlongs on May 28 or the $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap over seven furlongs on June 30.

“The timing is perfect,” Spawr said of the Tiznow.

Later this summer, Amazombie is expected to start in the Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar in late July or early August.

In the Potrero Grande, Amazombie stalked pacesetter Roman Threat, took the lead in final furlong, and won by three-quarters of a length, giving Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith his 5,000th career win.

“Could you script that any better?” Spawr said.

It was not until race morning that Spawr confirmed that Amazombie would start in the Potrero Grande and not travel to Oaklawn Park for Saturday’s Count Fleet Sprint.

“Things happen that guide you,” he said. “I had a place on the plane.

Either way, I was covered.”

Spawr said he was heavily influenced by the way Amazombie worked a half-mile at Santa Anita in 47.80 seconds on April 5, two days before the Potrero Grande.

“The way he blew out that half-mile, the way he ran down the stretch, my jaw just dropped,” Spawr said. “He’s as good as he’s ever been.”

On race morning, Spawr and Smith spoke in the trainer’s office, discussing strategy. Smith urged Spawr to scratch the claimer Thunder of Zion, who had been entered in the Potrero Grande to ensure a quick pace. Smith said he felt more comfortable with that horse not in the field.

“Mike said that running that other horse, Thunder of Zion, would compromise our chances with Amazombie,” Spawr said. “The speed would be the Baffert horse [Roman Threat]. He said I can stalk him.”

The plan worked the way it was designed, providing Smith with a milestone win. For 6-year-old Amazombie, it was his first win since the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs last November, and a performance that ranks as one of the finest of his career.

Lady of Shamrock eyes American Oaks

Belle Royale and Lady of Shamrock, stakes winners on turf at Santa Anita on Saturday, will start in graded stakes on that surface at Hollywood Park in coming months.

Lady of Shamrock won her third stakes of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting in the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes for 3-year-olds over 1 1/8 miles. Her early summer goal is the $400,000 American Oaks on July 14, with an expected prep in the $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap on June 9, trainer John Sadler said.

Owned by Hronis Racing, Lady of Shamrock is likely to skip the first race for the division, the $100,000 Senorita Stakes over a mile on May 5.

Belle Royale won her fourth consecutive race, and first in the United States, in the minor American Beauty Stakes over a mile on turf.

Trained by Simon Callaghan for Michael Tabor, Belle Royale won three consecutive minor handicaps in England last August and September.

Callaghan said Belle Royale will make her graded stakes debut in the $250,000 Gamely Stakes on May 28, a Grade 1 for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

“I think she’s that quality of a filly,” Callaghan said. “She’s been really progressive. She’s got the perfect style for racing in America. She runs from off it and she relaxes.”