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Exit Stage Left Hopes To Remain Perfect In California Derby
Exit Stage Left, who entered and exited the winner’s circle after both of his starts as a 2-year-old, will seek his third stakes victory Saturday when he makes his 3-year-old debut in the $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields.
The California Derby is a 1 1/16-mile race that serves as a steppingstone to Northern California’s official Kentucky Derby prep, the Grade 3 $200,000 El Camino Real Derby, which will be run Feb. 15.
The California Derby is the seventh race on a nine-race card and will be run at approximately 3:45 p.m. Post time for the first race is 12:45 p.m.
Exit Stage Left made his career debut in the six-furlong Golden Nugget Stakes on
Nov. 9 at Golden Gate Fields and broke his maiden in grand style, overcoming some trouble (he propped when jockey Russell Baze took a slight hold of the reins) on the turn to win by a neck.
Exit Stage Left tried two turns in his second start and outran his rivals down the lane to win the one-mile Gold Rush Stakes by a length. Exit Stage Left prevailed in the Gold Rush despite not settling for Baze during the early stages of the race. “He was pulling on me pretty hard the first half-mile,” said Baze.
Exit Stage Left is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, who said after the Gold Rush that teaching Exit Stage Left to cooperate with Baze would be the focus in training.
“I think so,” responded Hollendorfer when asked if Exit Stage Left had improved his behavior since the Gold Rush. “He mostly does what Russell wants him to do when he works him.”
Hollendorfer will also send out Puppy Manners in the California Derby. A Kentucky-bred colt by Kitten’s Joy, Puppy Manners lost his first five starts but goes into the California Derby with a two-race winning streak.
“He’s come along slower that Exit Stage Left, but I thought he was good enough to have a chance to run in the stakes,” said Hollendorfer. “These horses are in the early stages of their careers, so you hope for improvement. Exit Stage Left was a quick learner, but neither one of them are at 100 percent yet. I’m happy with the way they are coming along.”
Exit Stage Left is the 5-2 second choice on the California Derby morning line and Puppy Manners is 10-1.
The 2-1 morning-line favorite is Enterprising, who is 2-for-2 racing around two turns and coming off a victory in the Eddie Logan Stakes at Santa Anita. Enterprising, a Florida-bred colt by Elusive Quality, recorded both of his wins on turf. Trained by Tom Proctor, Enterprising will be ridden by Aaron Gryder.
The field for the 99th running of the California Derby, in post position order with riders and morning-line odds, is as follows: Enterprising, Gryder, 2-1; Exit Stage Left, Baze, 5-2; Morally Bankrupt, Leslie Mawing, 15-1; Harbaugh, Juan Hernandez, 10-1; Infosec, Isaias Enriquez, 20-1; Argyle Cut, Dennis Carr, 8-1; Puppy Manners, Frank Alvarado, 10-1; and Royal Banker, Kevin Krigger, 3-1.