DEL MAR, CA – Trainer/co-owner Mark Glatt’s Sharp Samurai doubled down on his Del Mar turf dominance on Sunday, using a great stalking trip from jockey Gary Stevens to take the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Derby.
Stalking three deep after breaking from post 5, Stevens held the 3-year-old gelding in check while Monster Man and Harbour Master took turns leading through splits of :24.10, :48.91, and 1:12.51. Exiting the far turn five wide, Sharp Samurai shot ahead to take the lead in midstretch, then held off Big Score and Bowies Hero to complete the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:48.03.
“We took our time with this horse and made the right decisions,” said Glatt, who co-owns with Red Baron’s Barn LLC and Rancho Temescal LLC. “It doesn’t always work, but this is very exciting. I thought he was well-placed early, in the clear, which is where we wanted to be. We didn’t think they’d be going very fast, and when they don’t go fast, they have a tendency to bunch. Gary rode him perfectly, pushed the button exactly when he needed to, and the horse responded.”
Familiar foes Big Score (winner of the Zuma Beach here last fall and the Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland in April) and Bowies Hero (victorious in last summer’s Del Mar Juvenile Turf and this year’s Oceanside on Del Mar’s Opening Day) finished second and third, with Colonist missing the board by a neck. Fashion Business, Ritzy A. P., Double Touch, Monster Man, Marckie’s Water, and Harbour Master completed the order of finish. Sorry Erik was scratched.
It was the third straight stakes win for Sharp Samurai, who also took the Grade 3 La Jolla here last month and the Rainbow at Santa Anita in June. His career record now stands at 8-5-0-0 with earnings of $345,870.
“Lot of progress with this horse,” Stevens said. “His confidence level has gone sky high and he’s really liking what he’s doing. Been getting on him in the mornings and it’s all good. He likes the stalking trip and he’s been showing us a turn of foot that we didn’t realize he had. Mark asked me how I saw the race coming up and I told him I wasn’t sure. But it unfolded just about right. I got a jump on (Big Score) and that was key. Good race for him. Fun summer for me, too. This is turning out to be a pretty nice semi-retirement.”
Sharp Samurai paid $6.60 to win, $3.60 to place, and $3 to show. Big Score paid $3.80 to place and $3 to show, while Bowies Hero paid $3.20 to show.