ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 28, 2017)–In a thoroughly dominant performance, Sharp Samurai opened up on his competition turning for home en route to a 2 ¾ length victory in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Twilight Derby at Santa Anita–his fourth consecutive stakes win under Gary Stevens. Trained by Mark Glatt, the 3-year-old First Samurai gelding got a mile and one eighth on turf in 1:45.36.
With eastern invader Profiteer lapped to his immediate outside, Stevens stepped on the gas a quarter mile from home and the result was an eye-catching turn of foot that propelled him to what appeared to be the best performance of his career.
“Mark said the speed scratched (morning line longshots Cistron and Dangerfield) so I told him I just wanted to get away clean and if I was on the lead, I’d take it,” said Stevens. “Luckily Mike (Smith, aboard Profiteer) and I were able to slow it down he was being patient, as was I. The first time under the wire, you’ve already been dealt your hand so you just have to kind of sit.
“If he stays good and continues to improve, I think Mark will have the option to run him in the Breeders’ Cup Mile or the Breeders’ Cup Turf (1 ½ miles) next year. If this was six weeks away from the Breeders’ Cup, I would be shouting to go in the Breeders’ Cup Turf because you have to be so lucky in the Mile…I haven’t ridden too many that are this versatile.”
Fresh off victory in the Grade II Del Mar Derby Sept. 3, Sharp Samurai was off at 2-1 in a field of nine sophomores and paid $6.20, $3.60 and $2.80.
Owned by Jedd Cohen’s Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal, Kentucky-bred Sharp Samurai has six wins from nine starts and with the winner’s share of $120,000, increased his earnings to $465,870.
“I think he’s learned as he’s gotten older and he’s getting better each time he races,” said Glatt. “Gary keeps telling me that he just keeps getting better with each race as well.”
George Krikorian’s homebred Big Score, who was attentive to the early pace, rallied through the lane but never threatened the winner, finishing a half length in front of Bowies Hero.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Big Score was the second choice at 7-2 and paid $4.40 and $2.80.
Third to Sharp Samurai in the Del Mar Derby, Bowies Hero was third best again on Saturday, finishing a half length in front of Channel Maker.
Off at 6-1 with Kent Desormeaux, Bowies Hero paid $4.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.95, 47.61, 1:10.87 and 1:33.90.
Santa Anita’s 19-day Autumn Meet concludes with an 11-race card on Sunday. Special early first post time is at 12:15 p.m. For additional racing information, please visit santaanita.com.