Sharp Samurai carries Gary Stevens to the jockey's sixth Twilight Derby score at Santa Anita Park

Sharp Samurai carries Gary Stevens to the jockey's sixth Twilight Derby score at Santa Anita Park

Benoit Photo

Sharp Samurai Sharper Than Ever in Twilight Derby

The gelded son of First Samurai picked up his third straight graded score.

Gary Stevens had a game plan. Mark Glatt gave him the green light. And Sharp Samurai delivered Oct. 28 in the $200,000 Twilight Derby (G2T) at Santa Anita Park.

While the 3-year-old son of First Samurai  picked up his Sept. 3 Del Mar Derby (G2T) score with a five-wide rally from seventh, and ran in a similar manner to take the Aug. 6 La Jolla Handicap (G3T) in his graded stakes debut, Stevens sent Sharp Samurai to the front in the 1 1/8-mile Twilight Derby.

"I thought Dangerfield, coming off the sprints, and Troublewithatee would go," Stevens said. "Both of them knew they were up against it and were just trying to pick up pieces. Mark said the speed scratched (Dangerfield and Cistron), so I told him I just wanted to get away clean and if I was on the lead, I'd take it."

Despite close company from Profiteer, who narrowly showed the way on the outside through an easy quarter-mile in :23.95 and a half-mile in :47.61, 2-1 favorite Sharp Samurai waited patiently for Stevens' signal on the inside, then took over with the kind of move a favorite should make.

"That's the beauty of this horse," Stevens added. "He listens to me so well, and just wants to please me."

Quickening around the final turn after three quarters in 1:10.87, Sharp Samurai put in a surge that took him two lengths clear in the stretch. The gelding ran a mile in 1:33.90 and extended his advantage to 2 3/4 lengths at the wire. He finished in 1:45.36 on firm turf. 

"I think he's learned a ton," Glatt said. "He's grown up. He just gets a little bit better every time. He really put it together today."

Sharp Samurai returned $6.20, $3.60, and $2.80. Big Score, who enjoyed a rail-skimming ride from Flavien Prat, closed from a close-up fifth to claim the runner-up position, and paid $4.40 and $2.80. Bowies Hero was half a length back in third, worth $4. The order of finish was completed by Channel Maker, Profiteer, Just Howard, Ann Arbor Eddie, Troublewithatee, and Cowboy Culture.  

Sharp Samurai was bred in Kentucky by Cudney Stables out of the Street Cry (IRE) mare Secret Wish. He was an $85,000 purchase by Glatt from Glennwood Farm's consignment to the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale. His record for partners Red Baron's Barn, Rancho Temescal, and Glatt now stands at six wins from nine starts, with earnings of $465,870.

"I've never won stakes in a row with any horse, let alone a horse of this quality," co-owner Jedd Cohen of Red Baron's said. "He's a really good horse and Gary gets along with him so well."

Although his connections opted for the Twilight Derby over the Breeders' Cup World Championships a week later at Del Mar, Stevens is already looking ahead to next year. 

"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 next year," the jockey said. "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. He'll get a mile and a half and he'll get a mile, so he's a lot of fun to ride. I haven't ridden too many that are this versatile. We haven't seen the best of him yet."