Sharp Samurai and Profiteer worked together to slow the pace down early in Saturday’s $201,380 Twilight Derby (G2) at Santa Anita Park.
The duo lead the way down the backstretch in tandem, before Sharp Samurai shook loose under jockey Gary Stevens entering the turn and pulled off in the stretch to be 2 3/4 lengths clear of Big Score on the wire. Sent off the 2-1 favorite in the nine-horse field, the bay gelding returned $6.20 for completing 1 1/8 miles over the firm turf in 1:45/36.
Bowies Hero followed the top two under the wire, a half-length behind Big Score and a half-length up on Channel Maker in fourth. Profiteer faded to fifth, and completing the order of finish were Just Howard, Ann Arbor Eddie, Troublewithatee and Cowboy Culture.
Campaigned by Jed and Robert Cohen’s Red Baron’s Barn LLC, Rancho Temescal LLC and trainer Mark Glatt, Sharp Samurai has now banked $465,870 lifetime from a 9-6-0-0 career line. The First Samurai sophomore brought a three-race win streak into the Twilight Derby, scoring in the Del Mar Derby (G2) and La Jolla Handicap (G3) in his last two at Del Mar as well as the Rainbow Stakes at Santa Anita in early June.
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 and stakes victress Awesome Fire.
TWILIGHT DERBY QUOTES
Gary Stevens, jockey Sharp Samurai, winner
“He’s been working so well. When they’re doing that you wish the race was the next day so that nothing happens.
“He’s improved over the summer. (Trainer) Mark (Glatt) and his team have done a tremendous job with him. We haven’t seen the best of him yet. He’s improved with every race. Mark gave me the green light in the paddock that I could go to the lead with him if I wanted to. This horse listens to me so much and just wants to please me. I just want to please him, it’s been a lot of fun.
“Mark said we might have run him on the wrong Saturday and I said the same thing. Mid-summer after I won a couple on him and worked him, I told Mark that he’s about as good of a miler as I’ve been on in a long time. He’s doing the right thing with this gelding. Hopefully he comes out of this good and we’ve got the Derby down at Del Mar.
“If he stays good and continues to improve I think Mark will have the option to run him in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) or the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) next year. 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.
“I thought Dangerfield, coming off the sprints and Troublewithatee, with Corey (Nakatani aboard) would go. Both of them knew they were up against it and were just trying to pick up pieces. Mark said the speed scratched so I told him I just wanted to get away clean and if I was on the lead I’d take it. Luckily, (jockey) Mike (Smith aboard Profiteer) and I were able to slow it down and he was being patient, as was I. The first time under the wire you’ve already been dealt your hand so you just have to kind of sit.”
Mark Glatt, trainer Sharp Samurai, winner
“I think he’s learned as he’s gotten older and he’s getting better each time he races. Gary keeps telling me that he just keeps getting better with each race as well.”
Jed Cohen (Red Baron’s Barn), owner Sharp Samurai, winner
“No, I’ve never won stakes in a row with any horse, let alone a horse of this quality. He’s a really good horse and Gary gets along with him so well.”
Tim Yakteen, trainer Big Score, second
“He ran a heckuva race, I just can’t get by Glatt right now…We’ll give him another ‘go’ in the (November 26) Hollywood Derby (G1).”