Brave Dave returned to Calder Casino & Race Course on Saturday and moved to the head of the track’s 2012 class of 2-year-olds with an impressive win in the $100,000 Birdonthewire Stakes.
Brave Dave took an early lead and was never seriously threatened as he beat Sr. Quisqueyano by 4 3/4 lengths in the six-furlong dirt stakes. He won in 1:11.51 and was ridden by Paco Lopez, who came down from Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., for the race.
The victory was the third in four career starts and the second stakes victory for Brave Dave, who is trained by Eddie Plesa Jr. Plesa’s wife, Laurie, and David Melin own the speedy brown colt.
“He beat a good field today, and I was not really surprised that none of them tried to stay with him,” said Plesa, who watched the race on a TV at Monmouth Park.
Frank Perez, Plesa’s long-time assistant trainer, saddled Brave Dave.
Brave Dave’s runaway win led to questions about the next stakes race Plesa might choose for the son of Put It Back, who has gained recognition as one of the country’s top 2-year-old sprinters.
It will not be in one of the Breeders’ Cup races for 2-year-olds at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. Brave Dave is not nominated for those races and owners join him in not wanting to pay a late fee or otherwise rush the colt, Plesa said. Brave Dave also is not nominated for the $300,000 In Realty Stakes at Calder on Oct. 13.
Plesa said he might give Brave Dave a break from racing until the Gulfstream Park meet, which opens on Dec. 1.
Brave Dave won his debut at Calder on June 30. His only loss was a fourth-place finish in the Sanford Stakes (Grade 2) at Saratoga Race Course on July 22.
Brave Dave was fighting for the lead in that six-furlong race before he drifted out as the field entered the straightaway.
“We are chalking that up to inexperience,” Plesa said.
Plesa then sent Brave Dave to Monmouth for the six-furlong Sapling (Grade 3) on Sept. 2. He stumbled at the start, but quickly recovered under Lopez and won by three-quarters of a length over Special Jo.
That impressive record led bettors to make Brave Dave the 7-10 favorite in the six-horse Birdonthewire field.
He led by 1 1/2 lengths after a half mile, and so handily that Lopez looked back between his legs to see if any horses were gaining.
Instead, Brave Dave expanded his lead. Sr. Quisqueyano, who had won three of his four previous starts, came in a nose ahead of third place finisher Singnanother Song.
On Sept. 15 at Calder, the Plesa-trained Itsmyluckyday beat Sr.Quisqueyano by three lengths in the Foolish Pleasure Stakes at 1 mile and 70 yards.
Calder had two other stakes races on Saturday.
Dreaming of Sophia took the lead after a half mile and held off a late rally by Touch Magic for a two-length win in the $100,000 Cassidy Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.
Dreaming of Sophia, the 2-1 second choice in a 10-horse field, was ridden by Manoel Cruz and won in 1:12.81. She is trained by Luis Ramirez and owned by Frank Calabrese.
Ninetothenine beat Brother Pat by a half length in a $50,50,000 Starter Series stakes at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf for 3-year-olds and up. He won in 1:31.19 under Luis Saez.
At Belmont Park, Flat Out won the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (Grade 1) for the second consecutive year as he beat Stay Thirsty by a head. Flat Out won the 1 1/4 mile dirt race in 2:01.44. He was ridden by Joel Rosario and is trained by Bill Mott.