Favored Brave Dave overcame a bad stumble at the start to register a front-running victory in the $100,000 Sapling Stakes (gr. III) at Sept. 2 at Monmouth Park (VIDEO).
Brave Dave defeated Special Jo by three-quarters of a length while completing the six-furlong test in a time of 1:10.44 on a fast track. Six 2-year-old colts contested the Sapling after four scratches.
Fourth in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga Race Course last time out, Brave Dave was ridden back by Paco Lopez for trainer Edward Plesa Jr.
A Florida homebred owned by David Melin and Laurie Plesa, Brave Dave broke his maiden at first asking June 30 at Calder Casino & Race Course. He is now 2-for-3 in his brief career with earnings of $91,100.
"He overcame stumbling out of the gate and my main concern was that he would grab himself but he seems to be alright," Plesa said. "He's blessed with a lot of speed and now we'll have to see how far he'll go."
The scratches of 5-2 morning line favorite Overanalyze and 4-1 shot Lawn Man in favor of the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (gr. II) Sept. 3 at Saratoga altered the wagering. Brave Dave was made the narrow 17-10 pick over Drum Roll at 19-10.
Brave Dave, breaking from post 3, stumbled out the gate and bumped with Coach A. J. but regained his stride quickly to jump out to a 1 1/2-length lead over Coach A. J. and Bobcat Jim. He ran an opening quarter mile in a speedy :21.66 and a half in :44.84, continuing to dictate terms through the turn.
Special Jo, last early, circled the field on the turn and drew close to Brave Dave at the three-sixteenth pole. But Brave Dave, responding to rousing from Lopez, repelled that challenge to regain control through the lane. Under urging, Brave Dave held off Special Jo, ridden by Elvis Trullio, through the final furlong.
"He took a really bad stumble out of the gate, but I know this horse and how fast he is," Lopez 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 (Special Jo) coming with his run and my horse responded nicely."
Special Jo finished 4 1/2 lengths clear of Drum Roll, who loomed on the outside rounding the turn but weakened in the stretch under Chris DeCarlo. Bobcat Jim, Coach A. J., and Tap and Trade followed.
Brave Dave paid $5.40, $3.20, $2.20. Special Jo returned $5.40 and $3. Drum Roll paid $2.20.
Two others were scratched: Keep the Canoli and Lucci the Lion.
Earlier on the Monmouth card, 15-1 shot Doubled, ridden by Angel Arroyo, rallied near the inside past mid-stretch to defeat 3-10 favorite I'mclassyandsassy by 1 3/4 lengths in the $100,000 Sorority Stakes.
Trained by Cathal Lynch for owner/breeder Nancy Shuford, Doubled ran six furlongs in 1:11.88 to defeat six 2-year-old filly rivals. She collared pacesetter Back to Class at the sixteenth pole and drew off.
The winner, by Exchange Rate out of the Menifee mare Mayan Milagra, is a half sister to grade II winner Dancinginherdreams. Doubled was coming off a third-place finish in the Colleen Stakes on the Monmouth turf Aug. 12. The gray/roan filly won for the second time in four starts and extended her earnings to $98,550.
Doubled paid $32.80 for the win. I'mclassyandsassy, a 6 1/4-length maiden debut winner July 27 for trainer Steve Hobby, rallied mildly for second with Paco Lopez aboard. She finished second by three-quarters of length over Back to Class, who posted swift fractions of :21.43 and :44.50 with Charles Lopez aboard.