HALLANDALE BEACH, FL– Eddie Plesa Jr. has earned a place of prominence in South Florida and beyond during his four decades of training Thoroughbreds, achieving enduring success while saddling the winners of nearly 2,500 races.

The highly respected trainer has been well-represented in graded stakes over the years, enjoying success at Thoroughbred racing’s highest level with Grade 1-winners Itsmyluckyday and Three Ring while maintaining a constant presence in South Florida.

His presence will be felt once again at Gulfstream Park on Saturday when he sends out Epona’s Hope for the $100,000 Desert Vixen and Raging Fury for the $100,000 Dr. Fager in the first leg of the 2023 FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series.

Plesa has had a solid history in the series for 2-year-olds sired by accredited Florida stallions while visiting South Florida winner’s circles with the likes of Three Ring, B. B. Best and Adhrhythm, all multiple-leg winners, among so many others.

“Three Ring, she was one of those horses that the series helped, and she went on to do bigger and better things,” Plesa said. “She was a standout.”

Three Ring, who captured the 2006 Susan’s Girl and My Dear Girl after the Plesa-trained Snow Lady won the Desert Vixen, went on to finish third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies won by Dreaming of Anna before winning multiple graded-stakes at Gulfstream and registering a victory in the Grade 1 Acorn that followed a run in the Grade Kentucky Derby.

Plesa will attempt to build his impressive Florida Sire Stakes resume Saturday with Leon Ellman, Glassman Racing LLC and his Laurie Plesa’s Epona’s Hope in the six-furlong Desert Vixen and Donald Mensh and Laurie Plesa’s Raging Fury in the six-furlong Dr. Fager.

Epona’s Hope, a daughter of Ocala Stud stallion Adios Charlie, won at first asking, scoring an off-the pace victory at four-and-a-half furlongs June 9. She returned to finish third in the Aug. 13 Sharp Susan, a six-furlong open stakes in which she rallied six-wide following a less than ideal start.

“She could have had a better trip, but she overcame to finish third. She showed some heart and determination doing that,” Plesa said. “I expect her to improve off that race. It’s a restricted race, so that helps, but there are a couple horses in there that look like legitimate horses also. I think the distance will help.”

Epona’s Hope, who is rated at 9-2 on the morning line, will break from the outside post in the field of eight fillies.

Raging Fury, a son of Ami’s Flatter, is coming off a determined debut victory at five-and-a-half furlongs in which he closed late to prevail by a neck.

“He’s been training excellent. I think he’s a sleeper in the race. Again, I see some horses in there that look like they could be anything,” Plesa said. “He comes in off a maiden win his first start. I don’t think he got into gear until the last sixteenth of a mile and then he really turned it on. I think he’s still learning and has a lot to learn.”

Raging Fury is rated at 12-1 in a field of 10.

Edgar Perez has the mount on both Plesa trainees.

The Desert Vixen is Race 6 and the Dr. Fager is Race 8 on Saturday’s 10-race program, but the day won’t be finished for Plesa, who will send out Time Passage for a start in the $60,000 Soaring Softly, a mile-and-70-yard overnight handicap for 3-year-old fillies carded as Race 9.

The daughter of Bridlewood Farm stallion Tunwoo, who finished fourth last year in both the FSS Susan’s Girl and My Dear Girl, has blossomed upon the surface switch to Tapeta, over which she has won twice and finished second twice in five starts.

Time Passage has been installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a field of seven fillies. Edgard Zayas as the return mount.