08/06/2017 9:59PM

Sharp Samurai prevails in La Jolla Handicap under cool ride by Stevens

Benoit & Associates
A patient ride by Gary Stevens helped Sharp Samurai to a head victory in Sunday's Grade 3 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – All the patience that comes with race riding for more than 35 years served Gary Stevens well on Sunday at Del Mar, for in a race when many of his rivals were overeager and made premature moves, Stevens kept a tight hold on Sharp Samurai and produced him when it mattered most, and they were able to win the Grade 3, $151,035 La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds.

Sharp Samurai ($4.40), the favorite, allowed the early movers to go past him moving down the backside of the 1 1/16-mile turf race, then lauched a five-wide move on the far turn in which he rocketed from sixth to first, but he still had to stave off a late run from 12-1 Fashion Business to hold on and win by a head.

Colonist was another three-quarters of a length back in third, then came Placido, Pioneer Lad, Offshore, Double Touch, and Monster Man, in that order.

Sharp Samurai covered 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.51, and earned a berth in the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 3.

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“Like they say in Europe, that was a really messy race,” said Stevens, who said Sharp Samurai got a bit aggressive when Double Touch made a premature move outside him early down the backstretch.

“My horse wanted to engage, but I got him settled,” Stevens said.

Stevens then wheeled Sharp Samurai around rivals on the far turn, and after prevailing, Sharp Samurai galloped out all the way to the three-furlong pole.

“Something spooked him and he ran off,” Stevens said. “He’s a cool, cool horse.”

Mark Glatt is the trainer and co-owner of Sharp Samurai, but Stevens has been a big part of the horse’s development, as he has worked Sharp Samurai in preparation for this race.

“He was training out of this world,” Stevens said.

Glatt said Stevens “rode a terrific race.”

“When that horse moved outside him, he could have gone on with it, but he sat chilly,” Glatt said.

Sharp Samurai, by First Samurai, was gelded after a poor try in his debut, and since then he has won four times in six starts, including 3 of 4 since being moved to turf. He won the Rainbow at Santa Anita on June 10, then awaited this race as a prep for the Del Mar Derby.

Glatt now owns Sharp Samurai along with the Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal of Jed Cohen, who bought a majority interest in Sharp Samurai from Al and Sandee Kirkwood following the Rainbow.

Sharp Samurai earned $90,000 from the La Jolla to bring his lifetime total to $195,870.