Mike Smith: Amazombie gave him 5,000th career winnerPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Smith reaches 5,000 winners on Amazombie
Report: USA, Saturday
Santa Anita: Potrero Grande Hcap (Grade 2) 6½f, dirt, 4yo+
ZENYATTA'S jockey Mike Smith reached a notable milestone on the Santa Anita Derby undercard when he became the 25th jockey to ride 5,000 winners in North America.
Smith, 46, partnered Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Amazombie (Bill Spawr) to complete back-to-back victories in the Potrero Grande, having earlier moved on to the 4,999-winner mark aboard Lady Of Shamrock in the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes.
"This is really humbling," said Smith. "It feels great to win this
race for Bill Spawr and for it to happen on Amazombie is so fitting. Who could have drawn it up any better?
"I feel really good and I'll sleep well tonight. Just to be put in
that group of guys that have won 5,000, I'm just beside myself. I've got Easter off tomorrow and I'm gonna go on an Easter egg hunt. I've always had a lot of fun throughout my career and I wouldn't change anything, even the injuries."
With 15 Breeders' Cup winners, Hall of Famer Smith shares the all-time record with Jerry Bailey.
He added: "I can remember riding in El Paso with the wind blowing a hundred miles an hour and I thought ‘this is the greatest place on earth.' I want to focus on getting good horses to ride and work hard at it. I feel great and I'm still getting good opportunities."
Sent off 13-10 favourite for Saturday's race, the six-year-old
Amazombie recorded a cosy three-quarter-length victory, picking up front-runner Roman Threat with no semblance of difficulty in the stretch.
"Amazombie is stronger this year," said trainer Bill Spawr. "He's got more muscle, better colour, and probably weighs 60, 70 pounds more - and it's all muscle. I feel this year our goal is the Breeders' Cup and this is our first step."
Also on Saturday
Santa Anita: Providencia Stakes (Grade 3) 1m1f, turf, 3yo fillies
Mike Smith's 4,999th winner had come aboard Lady Of Shamrock (John Sadler), who completed a hat-trick on the Santa Anita turf after making up seven lengths in the stretch drive.
>>Michael Tabor's Belle Royale (Simon Callaghan/Joel Rosario), who won four handicaps last term for Mark Brisbourne, closed out wide to make a winning US debut for her new connections in a $82,000 stakes race over 1m on turf.
Also on Saturday
Karlovy Vary wins the Central Bank Ashland Stakes under James GrahamPICTURE: Matt Wooley/EquiSport Photos
Keeneland: Ashland Stakes (Grade 1) 1m½f, AW, 3yo fillies
Royal Ascot possible Stephanie's Kitten, who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf last term, finished third behind front-running Karlovy Vary (Rusty Arnold/James Graham) on her seasonal debut on the Polytrack.
Stepping up from allowance company, Karlovy Vary was sent off a 15-1 chance and was well clear as they turned into the straight before holding on by three-quarters of a length over Hard Not To Like with late-running Stephanie's Kitten third.
The winner will switch to dirt next in the Kentucky Oaks.