Exit Stage Left stayed undefeated in the California.

Exit Stage Left stayed undefeated in the California.

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Exit Stage Left Steals Cal Derby Spotlight

Unbeaten colt wins third straight stakes, denying Enterprising at Golden Gate Fields.

Exit Stage Left kept his record unblemished with his third consecutive stakes victory in the $100,000 California Derby Jan. 18 at Golden Gate Fields, denying favored Enterprising by half a length (VIDEO).

It was the seventh Cal Derby win for both jockey Russell Baze and his Hall of Fame training counterpart Jerry Hollendorfer, and the fourth time they've done it together. Hollendorfer owns Exit Stage Left in partnership with Mark Dedomenico after paying $100,000 for the son of Noonmark at the Barretts' 2-year-old sale last March.

The winner was bred in New Jersey by Bright View Farm out of the unraced Peaks and Valleys mare Hana J.

The front-running Exit Stage Left completed the 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds in 1:44.07 over the synthetic Tapeta racing surface at Golden Gate at odds of 5-2. He staved off a determined Enterprising in the final furlong, with 25-1 shot Infosec third.

Glen Hill Farm's homebred Enterprising, shipping in from Southern California off a one-mile turf victory in the Eddie Logan Stakes Dec. 28, was the 19-10 pick in the field of eight sophomores.

Exit Stage Left was always prominent, battling head-and-head on the lead with hunch play Harbaugh through quarter mile fractions of :23.86, :48.80, and 1:12.96. Enterprising was close up as well, stalking along the inside in third or fourth for Aaron Gryder.

Given the nod rounding the bend by Baze, Exit Stage Left inched away from the weakening Harbaugh leaving the quarter pole and the chestnut colt opened up by 1 1/2 lengths mid-stretch as Enterprising and Infosec, ridden by Isaias Enriquez, mounted their challenges. Enterprising, between horses, drew close in the final sixteenth but could not get on even terms with the game winner.

Baze said he wasn't concerned with the pace battle but knew Enterprising would challenge in the stretch.

"I'd watched a couple of his races and I knew (Enterprising) had a good kick," he said, "but my horse kicked a little better. This is a nice little horse and this was by far the best group that he has faced."

It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Infosec, who finished evenly while half a length ahead of the Hollendorfer-trained Puppy Manners, who rallied from last.

Exit Stage Left has won all three of his races at Golden Gate, beginning with a neck victory in the Golden Nugget Stakes at six furlongs Nov. 9. Stretched out to a mile for his next start in the Gold Rush Dec. 7, he prevailed by one length over Argyle Cut, who ran fifth in the Cal Derby. The winner's share of $60,000 boosted Exit Stage Left's career earnings to $135,350.

Carrying 122 pounds, Exit Stage Left paid $7.20, $3.40, and 3. Enterprising, who also shouldered 122 as the only other stakes winner in the field, returned $4 and $3.20 and was part of a chalky $21.20 exacta. Infosec, coming off a starter allowance win, paid $8.60 to show with a strong effort.

Puppy Manners and and Argyle Cut were followed home by Royal Banker, Harbaugh, and Morally Bankrupt