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Champion Sprinter Amazombie Dies at Old Friends

Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement facility in Georgetown, Ky., is deeply saddened to announce that Amazombie, the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner and 2011 champion sprinter, was euthanized Monday, Sept. 18, because of a fractured ankle.

The 16-year-old bay gelding arrived at the farm in 2014 courtesy of his trainer/owner, Bill Spawr, and co-owner Thomas Sanford, who continued to support him during his retirement.

Bred by Gregg Anderson, Amazombie, who was by Northern Afleet —Wilshe Amaze, by In Excess (IRE), was foaled April 18, 2006, in California.

The story of how Spawr purchased Amazombie is an interesting one. 

About a year before Amazombie’s first race, Spawr was at a farm talking with his friend Judd Morse, who would eventually break Amazombie. “It was a cold day, with heavy fog, and we all had hoodies on,” Spawr noted.

While there, two horses walked by and Morse told Spawr to go take a look at them. At the time, Spawr didn’t have a lot of money, but his friend convinced him to go look anyway. Spawr did and asked, “Well, which is the best one?” Morse said the one called Smoke No More. Spawr said, “Well, if you got him for $5,000, it would be a good deal.” The following day, Morse called Spawr and said the owner had accepted his offer.

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A few weeks later, Morse called Spawr and told him, “…those two horses will be in tomorrow.” Spawr replied, “What do you mean, those ‘two’ horses?” Well, it turned out Morse had been talking about Spawr buying both horses, not just the one, and as Spawr describes it now, “Amazombie turned out to be the ‘throw-in.’ ” And what a throw-in that horse turned out to be.

Spawr took ownership of Amazombie late in 2008, and the horse made his first start for him in 2009 as a 3-year-old, finishing second in a maiden special weight race at Del Mar. In his fifth and final start of the year, he won a maiden special weight race at Hollywood Park.

In 2010 as a 4-year-old, Amazombie became more successful, winning two allowance races, one at Santa Anita Park and the other at Hollywood Park. He also won two allowance optional claiming races, both at Hollywood Park.

In 2011 as a 5-year-old, Amazombie finally hit his stride and had his best year. He opened his season with a win in the Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes at Santa Anita for his first stakes victory. That year he also won the Potrero Grande Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita for his first graded-stakes victory, along with the Tiznow Stakes at Hollywood Park, and the Ancient Title Stakes (G1) back at Santa Anita. 

All of that led up to the 2011 Breeders’ Cup in November at Churchill Downs, to which Amazombie was originally not nominated to run in. However, according to Spawr, on the final day that nominations could be submitted, he was sitting with a friend at the track. Late that afternoon, he got a call saying he should get his horse into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, as he would be one of the favorites.

Spawr told the caller that he really didn’t have the money to do it, while at the same time, his friend had overheard the conversation and was writing a check for him to nominate his horse. “So my friend and Jon Lindo (another friend) got together and put up the money so Amazombie could run in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Amazombie didn’t let them down. On Nov. 5 at Churchill, under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who rode him many times, Amazombie scored his biggest career triumph and won an exciting running of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) by a neck over Force Freeze.

Amazombie was named the 2011 Eclipse Award winner as champion sprinter.

He returned to the track in 2012 as a 6-year-old and scored a repeat win in the Potrero Grande Stakes April 7 at Santa Anita, with Smith capturing his 5,000th career victory. Amazombie also won the Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) at Del Mar that year. Then on Nov. 3 he tried to win his second consecutive Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), which was being held at Santa Anita, but he finished eighth and was retired. He closed his career with 12 wins, five seconds, six thirds, and $1,920,378 in earnings in 29 starts.

Between Oct. 15, 2010, and July 29, 2012, Amazombie was in the money in 17 straight races, most of them stakes, which included seven stakes wins.

In 2014 Amazombie was retired to Old Friends thanks to Spawr and Sanford, and he arrived at the farm Oct. 7. He was accompanied on his flight to Kentucky and then to Old Friends by Game On Dude , who was also being retired to the farm at the same time.

“Amazombie was a lot of fun,” Spawr said. “He was so much fun, you just can’t imagine. And, you know, he died doing what he loved to do—run! … You guys (at Old Friends) did a great job. We appreciated that.”

Added Michael Blowen, president and founder of Old Friends: “Amazombie died doing what he did best—running like the wind. I like all of our retirees, I love just a handful, and we lost one of those when Amazombie outran his limitations, and I’m certain that I’m not the only one who is heartbroken.”

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.

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