11/28/2013 4:05PM

Hollywood Park: Majestic Stride does the expected in Vernon Underwood

Benoit & Associates
Majestic Stride and jockey Edwin Maldonado win the Vernon Underwood Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths Thursday.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Majestic Stride won the first stakes of his career in Thursday’s $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park, the only result that seemed likely to his jockey, Edwin Maldonado.

Maldonado’s confidence soared when Roman Threat, the winner of the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap in 2012, was withdrawn on Thursday morning, leaving a field of five. Roman Threat, trained by Bob Baffert, has been plagued by foot problems.

Without Roman Threat in the field, Majestic Stride was the 7-10 favorite and ran accordingly. He stalked pacesetter Anillo to the turn, took the lead in early stretch, and won by 2 1/2 lengths over Color of Courage, who had not started since July 2011. Handsome Mike finished third, followed by Anillo and Chosen Miracle.

Majestic Stride ($3.40) ran six furlongs in 1:08.87 in his first start since a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

“When (Roman Threat) was scratched, I knew he was going to win,” Maldonado said. “It was a matter of how far.”

Maldonado said Majestic Stride is best when allowed to race on the outside. In the BC Sprint, Majestic Stride broke from post 4 in a field of 12 and raced on the inside for much of the race, losing by 1 1/2 lengths to Secret Circle.

“I got loose at the three-sixteenths, but by then it was too late,” Maldonado said of the BC Sprint. “He likes to be on the outside and run freely.”

A 4-year-old gelding by Trippi, Majestic Stride has won 4 of 7 starts and $243,600. Majestic Stride ran three times in early 2012, and was off for more than 18 months before returning to racing in September.

The Underwood was Majestic Stride’s fourth start since early September. He is owned by Edward Brown, Jr., Alan Klein and Phillip Lebherz, and trained by Jeff Bonde.