Favored Majestic Stride gave trainer Jeff Bonde his second consecutive win in the $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
After stalking the quick pace (21.86 and 44.35 for the opening half-mile) set by stablemate Anillo, the 4-year-old gelded son of Trippi and the Great Above mare Great Looking Miss took the
lead entering the stretch, repelled a challenge from 7-1 shot Color of Courage and went on to prevail by 2 ½ lengths in the Thanksgiving Day feature.
Bonde, who won the Grade III for owners Alan Klein and Phil Lebherz with Smiling Tiger in 2012, became only the third trainer to win the Underwood in consecutive years. Wesley Ward went back-to-back with Men’s Exclusive (2000, 2001) and John Sadler repeated with Frost Free in 1990 after winning with Olympic Prospect in 1989.
Less than four weeks removed from a fourth-place finish – 1 ½ lengths behind winner Secret Circle – in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Majestic Stride, who is owned by Klein, Lebherz and Edward Brown, Jr., won for the fourth time in seven starts. The $60,000 payday pushed his earnings to $243,600.
Ridden by Edwin Maldonado, the Florida bred completed the six furlongs over Cushion Track in 1:08.87.
“That was the plan – 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 horse,’’ said Maldonado. “I knew he was going to win today because he had a little trouble (in the BC Sprint). He’s a nice horse.’’
–Hollywood Park Publicity