The Barclay Tagg-trained Dave took advantage of a clear outside trip under jockey Joe Bravo to win the $150,000 Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) over the yielding turf at Aqueduct Nov. 10.
"I thought we fit fine in there," said assistant trainer Robin Smullen. "We know that he likes soft turf, and we know that he likes Aqueduct. I told Joe (Bravo) that when he moved, to get him to the outside. He had plenty of horse the whole race. He didn’t get his trip late at all last time and he needs to get his trip. Now he'll have a little vacation and look to come back next year."
Sent off at odds of 14-1 and carrying just 114 pounds following his disappointing fifth-place performance in the Oct. 20 Mohawk Handicap at Belmont, Dave raced well at the back of the 12-horse field, galloping along on the outside as the Marty Wolfson-trained Golden Strategy led through early fractions of :24.65 and :50.28.
Operation Red Dawn, under Channing Hill, sat just off Golden Strategy’s flank while Bee Charmer and Presious Passion vied for the third and fourth positions. They went through three-quarters in 1:16.80, with Dave avoiding traffic trouble and inching up on the frontrunners along the backside.
While Presious Passion nabbed the lead heading into the final turn, Dave was steadied to avoid traffic trouble and still had all but two horses to beat. With the front runners fading fast, Dave came flying up the middle of the track under a strong right-handed whip from Bravo. He won by a length in a final time of 2:21.45 for the 1 3/8-mile event. True Cause was second while Musketier finished third.
"He made a good run," said assistant Rick Mettee of the Saeed bin Suroor trainee True Cause, a 4-year-old Storm Cat colt. "I wasn’t sure how he would handle the soft ground, but he got around there pretty good. He’s the kind of horse that likes to grind it out. We’ve got to be happy with how he’s progressed. He won a 'two other than’ at Delaware two starts ago. We’ll take him down to Payson and try to find something at Gulfstream.”
Dave, a 6-year-old Ends Well gelding, was bred in New York by Joe Gerrity. He is owned by a partnership of The Three Colleens Stable and Partingglass Stable, and now has a 6-10-3 record from 34 career starts. His victories include this year's running of the Ashley T. Cole Stakes at Belmont, the 2006 running of the Kingston Handicap at Belmont, and the running of the West Point Handicap at Saratoga in 2005.
Dave returned $31.60, $11.80, and $8.30 to win. True Cause and John Velazquez brought $5 and $3.40, while Musketier paid $10.60 to show under Jean Luc-Samyn.
Crown Point, Presious Passion, Sunshine Kid, Dreadnaught, Tricky Causeway, Operation Red Dawn, Encinas, Golden Strategy, and Bee Charmer completed the order of finish.
Also-eligibles Ra Der Dean, Prince Rahy, Green Lemon, and Barastraight were scratched.