Brave Dave wire to wire in Sapling Stakes score

Jockey Paco LopezDespite stumbling badly at the start and bumping with a rival, Brave Dave quickly recovered to lead at every point of call en route to a three-quarter-length victory in the $101,000 Sapling Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park on Sunday.

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“He took a really bad stumble out of the gate, but I know this horse and how fast he is,” winning jockey Paco Lopez said. “He rebounded pretty quickly and was in front quickly. I was just sitting and waiting and sitting and waiting ‘til the quarter pole when I asked my horse. I saw the other horse [Special Jo] coming with his run and my horse responded nicely.”

Special Jo, last of six early, moved up to second after a half-mile to stalk Brave Dave and raced willingly in the stretch but was unable to threaten the winner while finishing 4½ lengths clear of third-place finisher Drum Roll.

Brave Dave covered the six-furlong distance in 1:10.44 on a fast track.

The two-year-old Put It Back colt was making his third career start at a third different track, winning his debut at Calder Race Course on June 30 before shipping to Saratoga Race Course, where he finished fourth in the Sanford Stakes (G2) on July 22.

Bred in Florida by David Melin, Bea Oxenberg, and trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., Brave Dave races for Melin and Laurie Plesa.

Out of the Songandaprayer mare Sing That Song, a full sister to Grade 2-placed stakes winner Bee Cee Cee, Brave Dave boosted his earnings to $91,100 with his second win from three starts.