Berkeley, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Exit Stage Left, saddled by Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, set the pace and captured Saturday's $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields. The 1 1/16-mile stakes is the local prep for the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 15.
Co-owned by Hollendorfer and ridden by Russell Baze, Exit Stage Left assumed the lead on the first turn of the stakes while being pressured by Harbaugh in the eight-horse field.
Exit Stage Left, the 5-2 second pick, put away Harbaugh on the final turn and was able to hold off both 9-5 favorite Enterprising and 25-1 longshot Infosec nearing the wire.
Exit Stage Left posted a half-length victory over Enterprising followed by Infosec, Puppy Manners, Argyle Cut, Royal Banker, Harbaugh and Morally Bankrupt.
The time for the Cal Derby was 1:44.07 on the synthetic track.
"I thought (Harbaugh) would clear me leaving the gate and I'd sit just off of him, but he didn't break all that sharp and run away from the gate the way I thought he would," said Baze. "My horse rose to the challenge when he came up next to me. Down the backside I gave him his head a little bit. Once he got a little in front, he relaxed real well for me.
"He doesn't like to let horses by him. He ran hard all the way to the wire. He kicked real good when I asked him, and when (Enterprising) came into sight, he laid his body down even harder. He's tough and he's talented. You have to like that combination. And, you know, he's still a work in progress."
Exit Stage Left notched his third stakes win in as many career starts all with Hall of Fame jockey Baze in the saddle. The victory was worth $60,000 to give the chestnut colt $135,350 in earnings.
The chestnut colt won the Golden Nugget at Golden Gate in his first start as the even-money favorite on Nov. 9 and captured the Gold Rush Stakes four weeks later at the track as the 3-5 top pick.
Exit Stage Left returned $7.20, $3.40 and $3.00. Enterprising paid $4.00 and $3.20, and Infosec paid $8.60 to show.