‘Samurai’ sharp in Twilight Derby

Horse Racing

ARCADIA, Calif. – Sharp Samurai is compiling a serious winning streak.

In Saturday’s Grade 2 Twilight Derby at Santa Anita, Sharp Samurai disputed the pace throughout and won by a convincing 2 3/4 lengths for his fourth consecutive win, all in stakes.

“We haven’t seen the best of him yet,” said winning jockey Gary Stevens.

Stevens gave Sharp Samurai a confident ride. Sharp Samurai disputed the pace with the New York shipper Profiteer through modest fractions of 23.95 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 1:10.87 for six furlongs.

“The 1:10 and change felt like 1:13,” Stevens said. “He was in a high gallop.”

Racing on the inside, Sharp Samurai took the lead going into the turn and quickly took a commanding lead by two lengths in early stretch.

“I wanted to kick it up a notch going into the three-eighths,” Stevens said. “He has a helluva turn of foot and I used it.”

Sent off favored, Sharp Samurai ($6.20) ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:45.36. Big Score and Bowies Hero were second and third. The first three in the $201,380 Twilight Derby were the first three finishers of the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 3.

Big Score closed from fifth in the final quarter-mile to finish a half-length in front of Bowies Hero.

“He’s very honest and tries every time,” jockey Flavien Prat said of Big Score.

Prat said Big Score was unable to trouble Sharp Samurai.

“The winner was just better,” Prat said.

Channel Maker finished fourth, followed by Profiteer, Just Howard, Ann Arbor Eddie, Troublewithatee, and Cowboy Culture.

Channel Maker won the Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine on Aug. 20 and was sixth in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic against older horses at Belmont Park on Sept. 30.

Sharp Samurai has won 6 of 9 starts and earned $465,870 for Jed Cohen and his family and trainer Mark Glatt. The start of the winning streak coincided with the first time Stevens rode the gelding, who is by First Samurai.

Sharp Samurai won his stakes debut in the Rainbow Stakes here in June and the Grade 3 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 6 prior to the Del Mar Derby.

Sharp Samurai will stay in the 3-year-old division for the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar on Nov. 25.

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