Sharp Samurai and jockey Gary Stevens are guided into the winner’s circle after their victory in the Grade II, $ 250,000 Del Mar Derby, Sunday, September 3, 2017 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar CA.© BENOIT PHOTO
Under a beautifully-timed ride by Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, 2-1 favored Sharp Samurai proved best by a half-length Sunday in the 73rd running of the Grade II $ 250,000 Del Mar Derby for three-year-olds.
“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 (trainer Mark Glatt) 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 (second-place finisher 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.”
Well-placed in midpack in the early stages of the nine-furlong grass contest, Sharp Samurai swept past his opposition in the upper stretch and was able to stave off the late bid of Big Score, piloted by Del Mar’s leading rider, Flavien Prat.
Sharp Samurai, a son of First Samurai owned by Red Barons Barn, Rancho Temescal and trainer Mark Glatt, earned his favoritism with a victory in the steppingstone La Jolla Handicap August 6.
Bowies Hero, winner of the opening-day Oceanside Stakes, ran well to be third, only a half-length behind the runner-up and a neck in front of fourth-place Colonist in the field of ten three-year-olds. Sorry Erik was scratched.
Sharp Samurai was timed in 1:48.03, charging to the wire in less than 12 seconds for the final furlong to ensure the triumph, his fifth in only eight starts. He returned $ 6.60, $ 3.60 and $ 3 while earning $ 150,000 to increase his career bankroll to $ 345,870.
“We took our time with this horse and made the right decisions,” Glatt said. “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.”
Runner-up Big Score, a stakes-winner on grass in the Transylvania at Keeneland last spring, broke his maiden over the Del Mar turf a year ago and later was second to Bowies Hero in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. He returned $ 3.80 and $ 3 Sunday, while Bowies Hero paid $ 3.20 to show.
In Sunday’s supporting feature, the $ 100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf for two-year-olds at one mile over the infield grass course, Reddam Racing’s Encumbered rallied to the lead at the top of the stretch under jockey Mario Gutierrez and then held off the challenge of My Boy Jack to win by a half-length.
Kazan was third, with Pubilius Syrus fourth in the field of 14 juvenile runners.
Encumbered, a son of Violence purchased for $ 225,000 at the Ocala, Florida two-year-old sale in April, was timed in 1:35.90 and returned $ 9.40, $ 4.60 and $ 3.60 as the 7-2 second choice after his second win in three starts. He broke his maiden July 30, also at a mile on the turf, and defeated the same horse who ran second Sunday, My Boy Jack. The latter, a lukewarm choice at 3-1, paid $ 4.20 and $ 3.60, while Kazan returned $ 7.60 to show.
Simon Callaghan, who sent out Moonshine Memories to win the Grade I $ 300,000 Del Mar Debutante Saturday, trains both Encumbered and Kazan. Callaghan will saddle the Del Mar Futurity favorite Run Away Monday, closing day of the 36-day summer racing season. Post time for the first of ten races will be 2 p.m.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2017 Paulick Report.