Trainer Jeff Bonde will send out Anillo and Majestic Stride seeking a repeat in the $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
A Grade III for 3-year-olds & up at six furlongs over Cushion Track, the Underwood is the fourth of eight races on the Thanksgiving program. Post time is 11 a.m. Track gates at Betfair Hollywood Park will open at 9:30 a.m. for simulcasts.
A winner a year ago with Smiling Tiger, Bonde could become only the third trainer to go back-to-back in the Underwood, which will have its 33rd renewal Thursday.
Wesley Ward teamed with Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. to earn consecutive victories with Men’s Exclusive in 2000 and 2001. John Sadler won with Olympic Prospect (1989) and Frost Free (1990) before adding a record third victory with Cost of Freedom in 2010.
Owned by Rontos Racing Stable Corporation, Rick Mace and George and Mary Clare Schmitt, Anillo has won five of 16 and earned $125,697.
A gelded son of Aragorn and the Missionary Ridge mare Stylish Mission, Anillo will be making his Betfair Hollywood Park debut after finishing third behind Zeewat and Flashback in the Damascus Stakes Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Attempting to become the first 3-year-old to win the Underwood since Sailors Sunset in 2006, Anillo is 1-for-1 over synthetic. The chestnut defeated $30,000 maidens Oct. 10, 2012 over Keeneland’s Polytrack.
Majestic Stride will also be making his first local appearance for owners Edward Brown, Jr., Alan Klein and Phil Lebherz.
The 4-year-old Trippi gelding was fourth – beaten 1 ½ lengths by winner Secret Circle – in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
In his only previous race over an artificial surface, Majestic Stride was second in his career debut Jan. 2, 2012 on the Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields.
Out of the Great Above mare Great Looking Miss, Majestic Stride has won half of his six starts and earned $183,600.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will seek his second Underwood win – Gundaghia provided the first in 1992 – with Roman Threat.
Owned by breeders Patti and Hal Earnhardt III, the 5-year-old Roman Ruler gelding out of the Flying Chevron mare Shameful has won two of five and banked $130,508.
Roman Threat is 1-for-1 at Betfair Hollywood Park, capturing the Grade III Los Angeles Handicap as the 9-10 favorite May 28, 2012.
Handsome Mike switches surfaces after finishing eighth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Nov. 2 for Reddam Racing LLC and trainer Doug O’Neill.
A 4-year-old son of Scat Daddy and the Smart Strike mare Classic Strike, Handsome Mike has won three of 21 and banked $908,823. The Kentucky bred is only 2-for-17 since the beginning of last year, but he’s made his victories count.
Handsome Mike won the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby at Parx as a 19-1 outsider in 2012 and his lone success this year was by 1 ¼ lengths in the Grade III Commonwealth April 13 at Keeneland.
Chosen Miracle will be making his first start since finishing fifth in a $69,010 turf allowance June 21 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Owned by Peter Abruzzo and John Carver and trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, the 5-year-old Ghostzapper horse out of the In Excess mare Royally Chosen has won five of 16 and earned $227,344. Chosen Miracle has never competed over Cushion Track.
Color of Courage surfaces after a layoff of nearly 28 months for owner-breeders John and Cheryl Toffan.
Away since finishing fifth in the Grade I Bing Crosby Handicap July 31, 2011 at Del Mar, the 6-year-old Came Home gelding out of the Holy Bull mare Color Magic is 4-for-8 with a bankroll of $142,240.
Now in the barn of Jorge Gutierrez, Color of Courage is 2-for-3 at Betfair Hollywood Park. He won consecutive allowance races for former trainer Paco Gonzalez during the 2011 Spring/Summer meet.
From inside out, the field for the Vernon O. Underwood Stakes: Anillo, Martin Pedroza rides, 118 pounds; Handsome Mike, Mario Gutierrez, 124; Roman Threat, Martin Garcia, 122; Majestic Stride, Edwin Maldonado, 120; Chosen Miracle, Corey Nakatani, 118 and Color of Courage, Orlando Mojica, 116.