In his first attempt at graded stakes company, Sharp Samurai didn’t disappoint. Sent off as the race favorite in the La Jolla Handicap (G3) at Del Mar, the First Samurai gelding went five-wide entering the stretch and held off Fashion Business to win by a head.
“That was, as they say in Europe, a messy race,” said winning jockey Gary Stevens. “Nothing was happening the way it was supposed to. I had to make my move a little earlier that I normally would. Then after I made my run, here came Talamo (on Fashion Business) in the lane. Good thing I saw his shadow out of the corner of my eye. He (Sharp Samurai) was pressed all the way and got it done.”
Sharp Samurai came into the La Jolla off of a victory in the Rainbow Stakes at Santa Anita in June. He is trained by Mark Glatt, who purchased him for $85,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale. Glatt campaigns him in partnership with Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal.
“We just stayed patient, and it looks like it paid off,” said Glatt. “Hopefully he’ll come out of it good, and it looks like we’ve got a legit shot in the Del Mar Derby. This race didn’t quite unfold like we thought it might. Gary made a smart move down the backside not to go with the horse that made a premature move. Instead of going with that horse to keep his position he waited. It meant going a little wide on the turn, but he said in the paddock ‘He’s the best horse in the race, and I’m going to ride him like he’s the best.’”
Sharp Samurai was bred by Cudney Stables and is out of the stakes-winning Street Cry mare Secret Wish.
The day before at Del Mar, First Samurai’s Dancing Belle was a valiant second in the Sorrento Stakes (G2). It was the 2-year-old filly’s first attempt at stakes company.
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.