Sharp Samurai notched his second graded stakes victory of the Del Mar meet with his half-length score in the Del Mar Derby (G2).
Sent off as the race favorite, the 3-year-old First Samurai gelding was mid-pack in the early stages of the nine-furlong grass contest before sweeping past his opposition in the upper stretch and holding off a late bid from second-place finisher Big Score.
“Lot of progress with this horse,” said winning jockey Gary Stevens. “His confidence level has gone sky high, and he’s really liking what he’s doing. I’ve 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.”
In June, Sharp Samurai won his first black-type contest by taking the Rainbow Stakes at Santa Anita, and in August, he became a graded stakes winner with his victory in the La Jolla Handicap (G3) at Del Mar.
Mark Glatt trains Sharp Samurai, who has won five of seven starts this year, and he owns the gelding in partnership with Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal. Glatt purchased Sharp Samurai for $85,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale.
“We took our time with this horse and made the right decisions,” said Glatt. “It doesn’t always work, but this is very exciting. Gary rode him perfectly, pushed the button exactly when he needed to, and the horse responded.”
Sharp Samurai was bred by Cudney Stables and is out of the stakes-winning Street Cry mare Secret Wish.
First Samurai is the sire of G1 winners Lea, Justin Phillip, and Executiveprivilege as well as Sovereign Award champion Stacked Deck. In 2017, he has been represented by additional graded stakes winner Miss Sky Warrior. First Samurai stands for $15,000 at Claiborne.