01/21/2017 6:52PM

Masterful Stride holds off Saturdaynitelites

Coady Photography
Masterful Stride paid $10.20 in winning the Hank Mill Sr. Handicap.

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Masterful Stride showed speed and guts in winning Saturday’s $30,000 Hank Mill Sr. Handicap at Turf Paradise.

Owned by H & E Ranch and trained by Scott Rollins, Masterful Stride ($10.20) went right to the lead from his rail slot in the 5 1/2-furlong event for 3-year-olds and up. He gamely held the lead under Jorge Bourdieu while taking heavy pressure from 3-5 favorite Saturdaynitelites, looked in trouble when that foe came up alongside in midstretch, but gamely rebuffed him and was actually edging away a bit at the end to win by a length. Saturdaynitelites stayed on gamely for second, well clear of Stoneys Mr Cruiser in third among the field of seven.

The race lost a bit of luster when Chief Cicatriz, an unbeaten New Mexico invader, scratched.

Masterful Stride ran the distance in 1:02.47 on a track listed as good after heavy rains the day prior. The winner’s share of $18,228 gives him earnings of $44,272. This may set him up for a shot at the meet’s marquee event, the $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup, here Feb. 11, a race in which he finished fourth last year.