December 7, 2021

Sharp Samurai ekes out head score in La Jolla

Del Mar opens Wednesday (c) Cecilia Gustavsson/

Sharp Samurai rallied from the rear of the pack in Sunday’s $151,035 La Jolla Stakes (G3) at Del Mar to just get his head in front on the wire. With jockey Gary Stevens aboard, the First Samurai sophomore stopped the clock for 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.51 over the firm turf, returning $4.40 as the 6-5 favorite.

Sharp Samurai rated two wide near the back of the field as Placido set the opening splits :23.24, :48.29 and 1:12.26. He ranged up to midpack on the backstretch, but Steves was forced to take a hold and restrain him a bit when Double Touch rushed up on his outside to join the front runners.

The way was briefly blocked before Stevens angled Sharp Samurai widest of all rounding the turn. The bay gelding then drifted back toward the inside in the lane and powered home, just holding off Fashion Business to his outside and Colonist to his inside on the line.

Fashion Business and Colonist were separated by three parts of a length, while Placido finished another 3 3/4 lengths behind in fourth. Placido kept his neck in front of Pioneer Lad, who in turn was a nose up on Offshore crossing under the wire. Double Touch and Monster Man completed the order of finish.

Campaigned by Red Baron’s Barn LLC, Rancho Temescal LLC and trainer Mark Glatt, Sharp Samurai is now 7-4-0-0, $195,870, in his career. He entered this spot off a 1 1/4-length victory in the June 10 Rainbow Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

Bred in Kentucky by Cudney Stables, Sharp Samurai is out of the stakes-winning Street Cry mare Secret Wish, who is a half-sister to Canadian champion Academic.


Mark Glatt, trainer Sharp Samurai, winner

“It turned out to be a wise decision (to pass on the Oceanside Stakes and wait for the La Jolla). This horse wants more ground to run on and I thought it would be too quick to run him in both (Oceanside and La Jolla). We just stayed patient and it looks like it paid off. Hopefully he’ll come out of it good and it looks like we’ve got a legit shot in the (September 3) Del Mar Derby (G2).

“This race didn’t quite unfold like we thought it might. (Jockey) Gary (Stevens) 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.’”

Gary Stevens, jockey Sharp Samurai, winner

“That was – as they say in Europe – a messy race. Nothing was happening the way it was supposed to. The horses I thought would go didn’t go. It didn’t unfold at all like I thought it would. My horse was relaxing, but then Kent (Desormeaux on Double Touch) came up fast outside me and my horse engaged him. I got him to settle again and I could see that Flavien (Prat on Colonist) down on the rail was loaded, so I wanted to keep him down there. I had to make my move a little earlier that I normally would. Then after I made my run, here came (Joe) Talamo (on Fashion Business) in the lane. Good thing I saw his shadow out of the corner of my eye. (Sharp Samurai) was pressed all the way and got it done.”

Joe Talamo, jockey Fashion Business, second

“I thought I was in good shape. I was saving ground and I saw Gary’s horse (Sharp Samurai) was wide all the way. I got through there and he came running. I thought I’d get him. That’s a tough beat.”

Flavien Prat, jockey Colonist, third

“Good trip. I got through on the turn. It was a good run for him.”