Majestic Stride, who closed well to finish fourth in this year's Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), made easy work of four foes to capture the $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes (gr. III) at Betfair Hollywood Park Nov. 28 (VIDEO).
Owned by Edward Brown Jr., Alan Klein, and Phil Lebherz, Majestic Stride notched his first stakes victory. Rated just to the outside of front-running Anillo through the first half-mile, the 7-10 choice took over in upper stretch and repelled a bid by Color of Courage to win by 2 1/2 lengths under Edwin Maldonado for trainer Jeff Bonde.
Bonde also won last year's Underwood with Smiling Tiger for owners Klein and Lebherz.
A 4-year-old-gelding by Trippi out of the Great Above mare Great Looking Miss, Majestic Stride was bred in Florida by Harold Plumley. Prior to the Breeders' Cup Sprint, in which he finished 1 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Secret Circle, Majestic Stride impressively won two allowance events in California; before that he hadn't raced since February 2012.
Color of Courage, a 6-year-old gelding who hadn't raced since July 2011, made a bold move from last in the five-horse field and ran well to be second. Handsome Mike picked up the pieces for third, followed by Bonde trainee Anillo and Chosen Miracle. Roman Threat was an early scratch.
Majestic Stride carried 120 pounds and paid $3.40, $2.40, and $2.10 across the board. Color of Courage returned $4.60 and $3.20, while Handsome Mike, the 124-pound highweight, paid $2.60 to show. The $1 exacta paid $6.90 and the $1 trifecta returned $17.80.
Fractions on the Cushion Track were :21.86 for the opening quarter mile and :44.35 for a half mile. Majestic Stride finished strongly in 1:08.87 for six furlongs.
"That was the plan—to give Anillo a head start and sit second—but (Chosen Miracle) kind of pushed me the first quarter mile and I didn't want to put too much pressure on our other horse," Maldonado said. "I knew he was going to win today because he had a little trouble in his last race, the Breeders' Cup (Sprint). He's a nice horse."
Joe Talamo, who rode Color of Courage, said he thought the gelding had a chance to win.
"I thought I was going to win at the quarter pole, but he just got tired," Talamo said. "He was pretty fresh out of the gate, but then he settled nice. He's really good to ride. He's 6, going on 7, but he acts like a 4-year-old. I'm real happy with his comeback."
Majestic Stride now has four wins and a second in seven starts for earnings of $243,600.