Eddie Plesa, Jr. is having an
exceptionally good meet at Monmouth
Park but a win in
Sunday’s Grade 3 Sapling Stakes would hold much more meaning than just another
tally to bring him closer to the leading trainer honors.
“There are lots of reasons that I’m
excited about this race,” said Plesa, who is second in the standings with 20
wins and will saddle Brave Dave in the $100,000 stakes for 2-year-olds.
Bred in Florida by the trainer, Dave Melin and Bea
Oxenburg, the dark bay son of Put It Back out of Sing That Song is owned by
Melin and Plesa’s wife, Laurie, and named for Melin. The roots run deep.
“The mother of this horse was owned
in a partnership (of Melin and Plesa). We gave a lot of money for her but she
didn’t quite reach the heights we wanted with her. This horse is a homebred and
if we can hit the board or win a race like this with him, it will mean a lot to
Brave Dave has an excellent chance
in the field of 10 who passed the entry box. After finding the winner’s circle
first time out on June 30, Plesa shipped him from Calder Race Course to
Monmouth to train and then ran him in the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga
Race Course. The colt raced right up on the pace but then drifted out badly at
the three-sixteenth pole and faded to fourth.
“It was more of an equipment
malfunction than anything. He had a little bit of trouble around the turn,”
Plesa explained. “Now he’s coming out of that race with more knowledge and more
experience and we’ll move forward off that effort.”
Brave Dave has been backing up
those words with his works. His training pattern at Monmouth has been
especially strong, and when the colt breezed four furlongs in :47 flat handily
on August 19, it was the fastest move of 81 horses at the distance. “He is coming up to it as good
as any horse can come up to a race,” Plesa said. “His last two works have been
exceptional and this is a race we’ve been pointing to all summer long with him.
He’s got a ton of speed and I’m very anxious for Sunday.”
Todd Pletcher has entered Drum
Roll, Overanalyze and Lawn Man but it is unlikely all three will be in the gate
on Sunday. With Chris DeCarlo aboard,
Drum Roll broke his maiden here at first
asking on July 8 and was fourth in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special under John
Velazquez in his next and only other start.
“In his race here he broke a little
slow and then got bumped,” said DeCarlo, who gets the call in the Sapling.
“Once he got rolling, he took me there (to the front) on his own. He hit his
gear and there was no stopping him.”