What looked to be a deep and competitive race on paper proved to be little more than a playground of sorts for David Melin and Laurie Plesa’s Brave Dave as the colt continued the early stages of what looks to be a promising career, winning for the third time in four career starts and capturing his second straight six-furlong stake when a 4 ¾-length winner of the $100,000 Birdonthewire Stakes at Calder Casino & Race Course Saturday.
“I know he’s a nice horse and that’s why I came to ride him,” winning jockey Paco Lopez said of his decision to travel to south Florida to retain the mount on the Eddie Plesa, Jr.-trained colt. “I like this horse a lot.”
A front-running winner of the Grade 3 Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park in his last start, Brave Dave once again showed overwhelming speed from gate in the Birdonthewire, taking control of the race in the first 100 yards when establishing a clear lead that would never be threatened, running with supreme confidence through early splits of :21.51 and 45:.03.
“There weren’t any horses in here that could go with him,” Lopez said. “And he got out of the gate so quick he just got to his spot by himself.”
With his position on the lead always secure, Brave Dave never faced any sort of a true challenge in the race, and after some mild urging in mid-stretch the colt continued to draw clear of his beaten foes, expanding his lead while always comfortably in front, crossing the wire an easy winner while stopping the timer in 1:11.51.
“At the sixteenth (pole) I asked him a little, but there really wasn’t much for him to do because no one was coming after us,” Lopez said. “And when we hit the finish line, he was still going easy.”
Sent from the gate as the odds-on favorite, Brave Dave returned $3.40, $2.20, and $2.10 for his popular victory. Sr. Quisqueyano paid $2.60 and $2.40 when runner-up for the second straight time, while Singanothersong returned $3.20 when crossing the wire third.
With his victory in the Birdonthewire, Brave Dave is now a three-time winner from four career starts with his lone defeat coming in the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga where he finished fourth. The colt has amassed $151,100 in earnings.
One race after Brave Dave secured the second stakes victory of his career in the Birdonthewire, Frank C. Calabrese’s homebred filly Dreaming of Sophia became a stakes winner for the first time when a two-length winner of the $100,000 Cassidy Stakes.
Ridden by Manoel Cruz for trainer Luis Ramirez, Dreaming of Sophia was forwardly-placed through the early stages of the Cassidy, tracking the early leader Magical Madam from third through an opening quarter that went in :21.97.
“She’s still a little immature so I wanted to be a little aggressive with her out of the gate and get her into the race,” Cruz said. “But after just a few jumps I was able to sit with her and wait until it was time to go.”
That time arrived as the fillies continued their journey down the backstretch, with Dreaming of Sophia charging to the front as the field hit the half-mile marker in :45.90.
“When I asked her to run, she responded,” Cruz said. “And when she moved to the lead, she was always doing it easy.”
Dreaming of Sophia enjoyed a clear lead as she reached the head of the stretch, and while there were some anxious moments late as both Touch Magic and Crumb appeared to make threatening late moves, the filly crossed the wire a two-length winner while covering the six-furlong trip in 1:12.81.
“She was starting to get a little tired at the end, but she did everything she needed to in order to win,” Cruz said. “And I think she’ll only get stronger as she matures.”
Dreaming of Sophia paid $6.40, $4.20, and $2.80 for the win. Touch Magic paid $6.20 and $3.40 when second, while Crumb brought back $4.40 when third.
Bred in Kentucky, Dreaming of Sophia is sired by the Calabrese-campaigned two-time Grade 2 winner Lewis Michael and is out of the mare Liz On Polk Street, who also won stakes while carrying the white and black diamond silks of Calabrese.
With her win in the Cassidy, Dreaming of Sophia is now a two-time winner from three starts, with earnings of $56,550.