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HRN Original Blog:
Racing At The Jersey Shore

New Jersey-bred Exit Stage Left has taken the West Coast by storm

Exit Stage Left Cal Derby 615 X 400
Photo: Don August

Exit Stage Left is the undefeated winner of the recent California Derby at Golden Gate Fields. In three starts, he has won three stakes races and over $135,000. What makes the story even more interesting is that this three year-old colt is a New Jersey-bred and one of only 187 foals in the entire 2011 state-bred crop.
 
Exit Stage Left is the fourth foal from an unraced mare Hana J., by Noonmark, who at the time was an unknown freshman sire. When Exit Stage Left won the Golden Nugget Stakes in November, as a two year-old, he became the first stakes winner for Noonmark. Noonmark is based in New York and that means that Exit Stage Left could run in the lucrative New York Stallion series of races.
 
It is interesting that exit stage left is exactly what Exit Stage Left did, as this east coast horse made his way out to the “Left Coast”. Bred by Christine Connelly, owner of Bright View Farm in New Jersey, the colt comes from a very strong black type female side. Connelly explained, “I had the whole family. I had the grand dam, Hasty Jude. She was a stakes winner and I foaled all of her offspring. Then we had Judaire and I did all of her babies. This whole family means the world to me.”
 
Judaire, the dam of Hana J., is the winner of five stakes races and the producer of nine foals of whom seven are winners. Hana J. had the potential to be a very good runner as Connolly told me, “Hana J. did not race because she had an infection in her hock and it seemed to always bother her, so the track was out of the question. It really knocked her out of having a racing career.”
 
Still Hana J. had the bloodlines of a winner. “She’s a big mare from a family of big mares that had strong personalities and nice big feet. They are good mares, substantial, and they put bone on a horse.” So Connelly told me when asked why Hana J. had the potential to be a good broodmare.
 
Bright View Farm does business primarily in the Mid-Atlantic region and thus unknown Noonmark was selected as the sire. Connelly said, “I breed to sell at the Mid-Altantic sale, that is pretty much what I see our market to be, so I tend to look in the region for a stallion.”
 
This Noonmark colt was born on April 29, 2011, the same day as the Royal British wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It made for a very exciting day on Bright View Farm and from the very beginning their colt also had a regal manner about him. In his very first night Connelly felt like this colt had something very special about him. “That evening when the colt stood up I just couldn’t resist saying, ‘That this colt is really handsome and this colt is really marvelous’. So from that point they called him the ‘Duke of Marvelous.’ “
 
Connelly talked about the promise that the son of Hana J. showed growing up, “As a youngster he was cooperative, popular, and very quick to learn things. As a yearling out in the field, he was the leader of his crowd, athletic, and had a really easy-going manner. He had a really nice disposition and took on the role of an easy-going leader. He always wanted to be first: first to get carrots, first to be fed, first one to get on the track.”
 
At the 2012 October Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic sale, the Duke of Marvelous sold for $43,000. After he was sold Connelly was hoping that he would stay in New Jersey with a New Jersey trainer, but most of all it was most important that he go to a good horseman.
 
In 2013 the colt was sent to the Barrett’s March two year-olds in training sale where we was purchased by Hall of Fame Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer for $100,000. Hollendorfer was attracted to the horse because, “He was a big and good looking horse and he worked well [at the sale]."
 
Bright View had gotten their wish for their colt to be in the hands of a good horseman, but Connelly admitted that, “I was surprised that he went to California, which I now think is cool.”
 
Hollendorfer talked about his aptly named horse, Exit Stage Left. "Noonmark was 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 so we brought him here [to Golden Gate]. There was a series of races here that I ran him in [Golden Nugget, Gold Rush Stakes, and California Derby] and plan to finish that off with the El Camino Derby.  There is always the option to try him on the dirt and then there's a huge race at Keeneland called the Toyota Bluegrass if I want to keep him on synthetic and if I thought he was good enough."
 
Exit Stage Left has become a great story for Bright View Farm and Christine Connelly. She is summed things up by saying, “I’ve been in the business for 37 years and prior to that my Dad was and we’ve had good stakes horses, but this has really moved me in ways that I couldn’t imagine. We always loved this colt. It’s thrilling me.”
 
 
Don August of Bay Area Backstretch contributed to this article. All photos are by Don August. 

 

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Older Comments about New Jersey-bred Exit Stage Left has taken the West Coast by storm...

In 1980 Jaklin Klugman won the Cal. Derby and finished third in KY Derby
Cavonnier, but not really based there. Maybe if you go back to when Golden Gate had a dirt track you could find a few, maybe that came in fourth in the Derby?.
When was an on the board finish from a GGF based horse in the K Derby? Cannot reacall one
I'm expecting big things for this one, Matt. He may not be the most talented, but he has heart. The fact that he is a fellow J-bred, is icing on the cake.
Haskell, cool idea!
Best of luck to Bright View and the connections of Exit Stage Left. I live in NJ and it is great to have a horse on the national stage that was bred in NJ.Also, I frequently say " exit stage left" when I want to get the heck out of where ever I may be! Would be lovely to see him win the Haskell this summer!

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In the 70’s I was another one of those kids that went to the track with their fathers, and I immediately became enthralled with the excitement and challenges of handicapping.  And then the charisma and dominance of Secretariat gave me a hero to follow. To this day, I still get emotional when I hear Chic Anderson’s call of the 1973 Belmont, “Secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine”.

 
There have been many great horses run at the shore. In 1976 I watched Majestic Light win the Monmouth Invitational, now the Haskell, in track record time, defeating Honest Pleasure, the big favorite who was in from New York.  This was one of my first big wins at the track.
 
In the 80’s, as a disciple of Andy Beyer, I made my own speed figures because they were not available to the public. Needless to say I visited Monmouth frequently to test out the “figs”.
 
The 90’s allowed me to learn about the backstretch as a part owner of a few claimers that were stabled at Philadelphia Park.  Not a typical owner, I mucked stalls, cooled out the horses, and watched morning works.  Also, I met my wife and discovered that her grandfather bred, owned, and raced thoroughbreds on the West Virginia, Maryland circuit.  Today our office is decorated with winner’s circle pictures and a vast collection of Kentucky Derby glasses.
 
Today’s electronic age makes it so easy to gather information about racing.  I hope you use this blog to learn about Racing at the Jersey Shore.