Photo: Don August
When trainer Jerry Hollendorfer purchased Exit Stage Left at the March Barretts sale, he really had no idea exactly what kind of horse he was getting. Sure he liked what he saw but as for the talent level, well, lets just say he started him in the minor leagues instead of shipping him up to the big club.
However, many coaches will tell you that sometimes you find a gem in the rough while you are weeding out the talent.
Exit Stage Left, a New Jersey bred son of Noonmark by Hana J, looked the part, but Hollendorfer didn’t have reason to think the numbers behind him would match up with the best. Noonmark won four career races and Hana J was unraced. So far that hasn't stopped ESL (Exit Stage Left) from going 3-for-3 in his short career.
“He was a big and good looking horse and he worked well at the sale," Hollendorfer said Monday. "Noonmark is not a proven sire so you wouldn’t figure that you should take him to Santa Anita. I wanted to try and find some easier spots for him. There were a series of races here that I ran him in and plan to finish it off.”
The series was the $50,000 Golden Nugget last November, the $75,000 Gold Rush Stakes in December and last week’s $100,000 California Derby. Looming ahead is the acid test so far, the $200,000 Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby (February 15).
Exit Stage Left has shown resiliency in all three of his starts. In the Golden Nugget he battled near the lead before having to check slightly and drop back on the turn into the stretch before re-rallying down the lane to prevail. In the Gold Rush, he had trouble relaxing, had to go three wide into the stretch and still prevailed. Then, on Saturday, he was pressed through the race on the lead but found a new gear in mid stretch when the Tom Proctor trained Enterprising came up along side.
“I was talking to Tom yesterday and we both agreed he had a real good colt and he couldn’t get bye us, so Tom is thinking that ESL is a pretty good horse.”
So the Hall of Fame trainer has the West Coast in good shape heading into the Derby preps with Shared Belief and Exit Stage Left at opposite ends of the state.
“There is always the option to try him in the dirt and then there is a huge race at Keeneland called the Toyota Bluegrass if I want to keep him on synthetic and I thought he was good enough we can try that,” Hollendorfer added.
But for now, the second string is playing out very nicely for the Dorf and if he can pass his final local test, he too will be pointed to bigger and better races.
Eclipse Awards has Nor Cal Flavor
The 43rd Annual Eclipse Awards that were held Saturday night, honored the best in the business in 2013. If you didn't know anything about Northern California before the show, well, i guess you do now.
Winning awards were the top 2-year-old boy and girl and they both happen to have debuted in Northern California.
She's A Tiger (3 wins and 3 seconds in 6 starts) including wins in the Landaluce and Chandelier Stakes in Southern California and Shared Belief, a three times winner in just over two months, both easily outdistanced their rivals in the voting. She's Tiger, trained by Jeff Bonde, made her debut at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton on June 22nd with a nine-length win. Shared Belief won his maiden race at Golden Gate Fields on October 19th with a seven length score.
Shared Belief is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, but in that race was trained by Jedd Josephson. Hollendorfer's group purchased the colt after his maiden win.
Also New York Times writer Barry Bearak won the multi media award for his piece on GGF jockey Russell Baze.