After Florida-bred Brave Dave broke his maiden in wire-to-wire fashion at Calder Casino and Race Course June 30, trainer Edward Plesa Jr. suspected he had a colt with some talent. Not only did Brave Dave run the six furlongs that day in 1:11.94 to earn a 83 Beyer Speed Figure, but both Singanothersong and Saturday Special, who were second and third respectively in that maiden special weight, both won their next races. Saturday Special broke his maiden by nine lengths.
So Plesa shipped Brave Dave to Saratoga for his next start, the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes at six furlongs on Jul. 22. While he finished fourth beaten only three and one-half lengths by the Todd Pletcher-trained Bern Identity, most of Brave Dave’s problems that day were of his own fruition as he tried to get out while racing for the early lead, then blew the turn slightly before lugging out down the stretch.
Plesa did not lose faith but rather corrected the problem and then entered him in the Grade 3 Sappling Stakes at Monmouth Park Sunday. The bad racing luck hit again as Brave Dave stumbled badly at the start of the six furlong Sapling and bumpred with Coach A.J. But Paco Lopez quickly gathered Brave Dave to his feet and before they could finish the quarter-mile in a rapid :21.66, Brave Dave was on the lead and had put a length and one-half between him and the rest of the field. A son of Put it Back, who stands at Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, Brave Dave kept his lead around the turn while going the first four furlongs in :44.85. Special Jo made a run at Brave Dave while going four-wide on the turn but could not catch him as Brave Dave went on to win by three-quarters of a length over Special Jo in second and Drum Roll in third. Final time was 1:10.44.
“He took a really bad stumble out of the gate, but I know this horse and how fast he is,” Lopez, who rode four winners on the day, said. “He rebounded pretty quickly and was in front quickly. I was just sitting and waiting, and sitting and waiting, until the quarter pole when I asked my horse. I saw the other horse [Special Jo] coming with his run and my horse responded nicely.”
Brave Dave was bred in Florida by Plesa of Plantation, David Melin of Sunny Isles Beach and Bea Oxenburg of Fort Lauderdale and the colt is owned by Melin and Laurie Plesa. In notching his first stakes win, he won the second of three starts and boosted his earnings to $91,100.
As the 8-5 favorite, Brave Dave paid $5.40, $3.20 and $2.20 and Special Jo paid $5.40 and $3.00. Srum Roll paid $2.20 to show.
Photo by Equiphoto