Amzombie won battle with Force Freeze in deep stretch to capture the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs by a neck. Jackson Bend finished third.
Amazombie, a 5-year-old Northern Afleet gelding trained by Bill Spawr, was ridden to victory by Mike Smith. He covered the six furlongs in 1:09.17 and returned $17.80, $7.40 and $5.00. Click here for chart.
Amazombie was outsprinted early as a quartet of runners broke sharply and battled through early fractions of 21.12 and 4.41. Force Freeze prompted the pace four wide, drew clear on the turn and challenged through the stretch by Amazombie who got up at the wire. Favorite Jackson Bend was outrun from the gate and made a mild bid but could not go on.
The victory was Amazombie's fourth graded stakes win of the year and his 10th win from 23 career starts.
Bill Spawr (trainer, Amazombie, 1st) – “I feel very fortunate and very lucky. After he won the Ancient Title (at Santa Anita), we decided to send him here. That's a 'Win and You're In' race, and if it weren't for the Ancient Title, we wouldn't be here. There are no words to describe the feeling (winning first Breeders' Cup race).
Mike Smith (jockey, Amazombie, 1st) – “When I got on him in the paddock, he took a big, deep breath and was cool, calm and collected. I think he actually out-broke the field, but then he settled. I cut the corner with him and then got out. The thing I worry about with this horse is hitting the front too soon; he tends to wait (on horses).”
Peter Walder (trainer, Force Freeze, 2nd) – “The owners are happy, and hopefully we can come back (to the Breeders' Cup) next year. He's just an unbelievable horse. He inherited the lead too early. The speed stopped in front of him and he took the lead under a hold. I was just worried he got it too soon. But I'm happy. With the way he ran, you've got to be ecstatic.”
John Velazquez (jockey, Force Freeze, 2nd) – “He made the lead so easy; I had a hold and he still went to the front. But I may have let him do too much too soon. I should have held him back. I heard that other horse (Amazombie) coming at the three-sixteenths (pole) and I got after my guy. But he just didn't have enough left. He ran great; I wish I would have waited just a little longer.”
Nick Zito (trainer, Jackson Bend, 3rd) – “He ran great. I think we just ran out of real estate. It was for all the marbles (Eclipse Award for Champion Sprinter), so that's why we took the shot. I see the fans like him too, and the handicappers made him 5-2.”
Corey Nakatani (jockey, Jackson Bend, 3rd) – “That remains to be seen (if six furlongs is too short for this horse). That's hindsight, you know. He's such a nice horse with a big heart. He deserves to be champion sprinter. The track is a little faster. The horses that were one-two stayed one-two. He (Jackson Bend) is the only one who made up any ground. Our trip couldn't have been any better. We lost a little bit of ground, but I put him where I thought was the best part of the racetrack. He ran really big. I think running against Uncle Mo (Kelso at Belmont Park) last time might have taken a little starch out of him. He seemed to have a little more energy last time.”
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