11/12/2007 1:00AM

Dave topples Red Smith foes

Adam Coglianese
A solid stretch kick carried Dave from eighth to first.
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - All's well that ends well indeed for the New York-bred Dave in Saturday's $150,000 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct.

Despite being by the New York-based sire Ends Well, Dave was ineligible for Sunday's $75,000 Cormorant division of the New York Stallion Stakes because a previous owner did not make sustaining payments.

Instead, trainer Barclay Tagg decided to take a shot in Saturday's Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap, and under a patient Joe Bravo, Dave unleashed a solid stretch kick that carried him from eighth to first by one length over True Cause. It was another length back to Musketier, who got up for third by a head over Crown Point.

They were followed, in order, by Presious Passion, Sunshine Kid, Dreadnaught, Tricky Causeway, Operation Red Dawn, Encinas (the 7-2 favorite), Golden Strategy, and Bee Charmer.

The victory was the seventh from 35 career starts for Dave, and his first against open company or in a graded stakes.

"This was just a last-minute thing," said assistant Robin Smullen, who saddled Dave for Tagg, who an hour later saddled Bit of Whimsy to victory in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs.

"We said, 'Let's try it. We think he'll like the further distance.' "

Dave, now owned by Three Colleens Stable and Partingglass Stable, has been most successful when he has been able to sit back and make one run. Bravo had Dave in seventh position while three wide down the backstretch and even had to steady his horse entering the far turn to make sure he didn't move too soon. Turning into the stretch, Bravo got Dave to the outside and he kicked hard when he got in the clear. Dave covered the 1 3/8 miles in 2:21.45 over yielding turf and returned $31.60.

"When he makes the lead he always wants to wait on horses, so it kind of got me worried when everybody made their move at the three-eighths pole," Bravo said. "I just had to sit patient."

* Your Flame in Me ($5.70) made a successful return to the races Saturday, sprinting to the front right out of the gate under Jose Caraballo and leading every jump en route to a 4 1/2-length score in the $78,750 Lady Tak Stakes. Frisk Her, under Bravo, rallied for second by two lengths over Half Time Crown. Your Flame in Me, making her first start since having ankle surgery in the spring, ran six furlongs in 1:10.76.

* Eibar Coa has dropped his appeal of a careless riding suspension handed down for the ninth race at Saratoga on Aug. 13, when his mount, Silver Timber, finished third but was disqualified to fifth for interference in the stretch of the $81,700 Troy Stakes.

He serves a 7-day suspension beginning Monday that runs through Nov. 18.