Sharp Samurai strives for fifth straight stakes score in Hollywood Derby

Three-year-old turfers will be in the spotlight in the Grade I, $300,000 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar this Saturday. The 1 1/8-mile test drew a field of nine accomplished colts and geldings. Post time for the Hollywood Derby, Race 7 on a nine-race card, is 6:30 p.m. EST. Be sure to get involved in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#4 SHARP SAMURAI (5-2, morning-line favorite) showed a new dimension in winning his fourth straight stakes race last time out. He was able to duel for the lead under Gary Stevens and kick away late in the Twilight Derby. He faces several similar foes as he returns to Del Mar, where he won two graded stakes over the summer. He is difficult to go against despite the presence of some interesting new challengers.

#7 MO TOWN (3-1) seems to have resurrected his career thanks to a surface switch last time out. His turf debut at Belmont last month was a tour-de-force victory over allowance competition. If he runs back to that race he could be a handful despite the class hike. John Velazquez will fly in for the mount.

#6 SOUPER TAPIT (12-1) is a longshot worth considering. He was blocked for much of the stretch run in his last start at Aqueduct, an allowance event in which he finished third. He’s never won a race on turf but took a Grade III over synthetic dirt at Woodbine earlier this year. Jose Lezcano sees fit to ship in for this.

#9 BIG SCORE and #2 BOWIES HERO, who retain Flavien Prat and Kent Desormeaux, respectively, have been second and third behind SHARP SAMURAI in two straight races. They’re both eligible for minor shares once more.

The play: $4 exacta 4/7, $2 exacta 4/2,6,9 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Despite not having a mount in the Hollywood Derby, Rafael Bejarano looks like a solid pickup this Saturday. He has seven mounts in all and has a chance to at least hit the board each one. All but one are single-digit odds, and one of them is a program favorite.

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