Amazombie – The defending champion in the $1.5 million Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint was put through what amounted to a faster-than-usual gallop on Thursday morning under exercise rider Javier Meza that trainer Bill Spawr likened to the one or two days before the 2011 Sprint at Churchill Downs.
"He left the half-mile pole and did a two-minute clip," Spawr said. "We didn't want to throw any elevens (seconds for a furlong) at him. The rider came back and said he just galloped him. He did exactly what we wanted, the same thing he did last year. We don't want to change anything if it works."
Amazombie went out with the second set from the Spawr stable to go to the track. Even as a second-setter, the 6yo Northern Afleet gelding was track-bound in the darkness just before 5 a.m. followed by an entourage walking behind that included Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who will be aboard for the 11th consecutive time, the 18th of Amazombie's last 19 starts and the 22nd time in the champion's 29-race career.
The group followed Amazombie's progress most of the way around the track by watching a blinking red light on Meza's helmet, an innovation that Spawr assistant Chris Aplin utilized around racetracks for about 10 years. Aplin had Amazombie going the three-eighths to the wire in 38 1/5 seconds.
Spawr prefers heavier riders to muscle Amazombie in the morning, which explained Smith's status strictly as an observer. Smith has guided Amazombie to 10 of his 12 career victories. Twice with Smith aboard Amazombie crossed under the wire first only to be taken down via disqualification.
"I don't get on him in the mornings, but he looked to me like he's doing really good and all systems are go," Smith said on the way back from trackside to barn 37.
"He's naturally quick on his own and he's not going to be too far out of it. When he fires, he'll run over anything. He might favor one surface a little over another, but he's ready and I think the track will be good and he'll run over it."
Boxeur des Rues – The 4yo colt galloped 1 1/2m on the Santa Anita main track Thursday under exercise rider Norberto Vasquez.
Capital Account/Coil/Fast Bullet – Trainer Bob Baffert’s Sprint threesome all were gallopers at Santa Anita Thursday morning and all appeared at the ready to deliver good performances in Saturday’s Sprint that normally names America’s fastest horse.
The Hall of Fame trainer has different reasons to like each one of them in the 6f race.
“Fast Bullet, he’s just a fast horse,” Baffert said. “He’s appropriately named. No telling how quick he might run.
“Capital Account is all racehorse. You know, I think the six furlongs may be too short for him, but he’s going to run big anyway. I wish I had had the guts to put him in the (Dirt) Mile. He’ll run a mile and he’d be a good miler. But he’s sprinting Saturday and we’ll hope for some good luck.
“Coil could be a good miler, too. He can run two turns. But when we brought him back (from a near-10-month stint on the sidelines) we just got behind on him. It was all about the timing. The horse won a grade I sprint (Santa Anita Sprint Championship Oct. 6), so we know he’s a good sprinter. That’s not bad. He might have the edge at six furlongs.”
Hamazing Destiny – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas shows pride in his durable son of Salt Lake who is heading into his third straight Sprint with the trainer hopeful of sending him to the winner’s circle this year after finishing second in his first try at Churchill Downs in 2010.
With the 6yo heading toward his 30th career start, Lukas, in response to a question about longevity of the horse, said, “He eats well, he sleeps well and he’s good to himself. Longevity is an asset and time is an ally.
“Every time he goes to race he’s perfectly professional.”
Jimmy Creed – The son of Distorted Humor was back on the track Thursday for a gallop, one morning after he worked 3f in 35 flat, second-fastest work for the distance at Santa Anita that day. The short work was meant as his last bit of fine-tuning for Saturday’s Sprint that has drawn a full field of 14.
His 3yo colt “came out of that breeze just fine,” said trainer Richard Mandella. “We really didn’t ask him for all that much yesterday. He basically worked under a hold.”
Justin Phillip – The First Samurai colt went to the gate to school and then galloped once around the main track. He was going to school later in the day with his five stablemates that are also running in Breeders' Cup races.
"He's such a cool horse," said trainer Steve Asmussen. "Nothing bothers him. We have a good group of horses. Everyone is sound both physically and mentally."
Smiling Tiger – Trainer Jeff Bonde, on the grounds for the first time this week, watched as his veteran sprinter galloped 1 1/2m Thursday morning.
And he liked what he saw.
“His weight is good, looks good and he’s happy,” Bonde said. As to what he likes about the son of Hold That Tiger aside from the $1.2 million in earnings, Bonde said, “He’s very athletic, very sound and he enjoys his job.”
Part of that job on Thursday afternoon will be to be schooled in the paddock in the day’s fourth race.
The Lumber Guy – Barry K. Schwartz’s gray New York-bred colt strutted his stuff Thursday morning during a 1 3/8m gallop on the main track.
“I was very happy,” trainer Mike Hushion said. “He was showing himself off pretty good. The photographers picked up on him pretty quickly. He’s got a nice presence.”
The Lumber Guy, whose dam, Boltono, died the day after he was foaled in April 2009, earned his trip to the Sprint with a victory in the Vosburgh on Sept. 29 at Belmont park. He was the lesser half of the favored entry with Sean Avery, but made a name for himself with a 1 1/4-length victory.
The Lumber Guy is Hushion’s third Breeders’ Cup starter.
“The other two times that I went, it was a ‘we’ll take a shot’ type of thing, but here I think I’ve got a loaded gun,” Hushion said. “If we get a little luck in the trip, it’s going to be very interesting.”
Trinniberg – When trainer Shivananda Parbhoo saddles Trinniberg in the Sprint, it will cap off a remarkable 12 months in which the Calder-based owner/conditioner ran horses in two Breeders’ Cups, the Kentucky Derby, and in the Dubai Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup day.
“It’s been unbelievable,” the Trinidad and Tobago native said. “My family has been training horses for a while, but we really just got going full-time in the business a few years ago. So to have started horses in races like the ones we have; words can’t describe.
“But the time for sightseeing is over. We’re all business this year, and we’re here to win this race.”
Parbhoo credits several people with the Parbhoo family’s rapid ascent in the racing industry, most notably those aiding in the day-to-day activities of running the barn.
“Believe me, my help is the very best,” Parbhoo said. “This guy right here that I brought with me to California, Oscar (Sotelo), is the best anywhere. We wouldn’t be here without him, or any of the others that work with us back in Florida, New York, or wherever we have horses stabled.”
Trinniberg will be the first Breeders’ Cup starter for Parbhoo as trainer. When the colt ran in last year’s Juvenile Sprint, Bisnath Parboo, Shivananda’s father, was the trainer of record. The same is true of last year’s Sprint participant Giant Ryan. Shivananda took over as trainer over in August 2012.