David Melin and Laurie Plesa's Brave Dave wired the field in the Grade 3, $101,000 Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park Sunday, marking his first career stakes win.
Sent off as the 8-5 favorite, the son of Put It Back finished the six furlongs in 1:10 2/5 over fast dirt, holding off challenger Special Jo by three-quarters of a length for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. and jockey Paco Lopez.
"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 the other horse [Special Jo] coming with his run and my horse responded nicely."
The win marked the fourth for Lopez on the day. The winner's splits were :21 3/5, :44 4/5 and :57, and Brave Dave rewarded backers with $5.40, $3.20 and $2.20.
Special Jo was a clear second by 4 1/2 lengths, followed by 9-5 second choice Drumroll back in third. Rounding out the order of finish were Bobcat Jim, Coach A. J. and Tap and Trade. Keep the Canoli, Lucci the Lion, Lawn Man and Overanalyze were all scratched, with the latter two set for Monday's Grade 2 Hopeful.
After capturing his maiden debut at Calder, Brave Dave was shipped to Saratoga were he ran fourth in the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes. After the win Sunday his lifetime record is now 3-2-0-0 and has earned $91,100.
Bred in Florida by his trainer, co-owner Melin and Bea Oxenberg, Brave Dave is out of the Songandaprayer mare Sing that Song, who is a full sister to Grade 2-placed multiple stakes winner Bee Cee Cee. Sing that Song is in turn out of the stakes-winning mare Mighty Rose.