08/14/2005 12:00AM

Dave rallies to win West Point Handicap


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - It took nearly two years for Dave to win his first two races. It took five days to win his next two.

After winning an allowance race here on Wednesday, Dave, the recipient of a ground-saving trip from Jose Santos, rallied past Provincetown in the final furlong to win Sunday's $113,600 West Point Handicap at Saratoga. Provincetown, who set a strong early pace under Chantal Sutherland, held second, a neck ahead of favorite Certifiably Crazy.

It was the first stakes victory for Dave, a 4-year-old gelded son of Ends Well. Joe Gerrity, who owns the Saratoga harness track, is the owner and breeder of Dave.

Trainer John Hertler ran Dave in a New York-bred second-level allowance race on Wednesday because he thought it was a good spot to get a win. When the horse came out of the race so well, Hertler decided to wheel him back in the West Point.

``He was bouncing the next day, so I figured let's go and get it,'' Hertler said.

Santos kept Dave along the hedge for the first mile of the race while Provincetown ran six furlongs in 1:09.92 and a mile in 1:35.58. Santos moved Dave off the hedge turning for home, and he sailed past Provincetown inside the eighth pole. Dave covered the 1 1-8 miles in 1:48.11 over an inner turf course labeled good. He returned $18.20 to win.

Hertler said he wouldn't be running Dave back anytime soon.

``You can get away with it one time,'' Hertler said. ``Now he needs a good rest.''

There was an announced crowd of 70,792 at Saratoga on Sunday. The New York Racing Association gave away stadium blankets. All the blankets were distributed and some fans were shut out.

It was the second largest announced crowd in Saratoga history. On Aug. 17, 2003, when the NYRA gave out wall clocks, the announced crowd was 71,337. Last Aug. 22 there was an announced crowd of 70,175 on Pint Glass Day, a day in which Funny Cide made his local debut.