07/20/2012 2:58PM

Saratoga: Brave Dave already proven at Sanford's six-furlong distance

Coady Photography
Brave Dave won his debut at Calder for trainer Eddie Plesa.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Eddie Plesa may not get the acclaim for his success with 2-year-olds as say Todd Pletcher or Wesley Ward, but the 63-year-old trainer has certainly done well this year, winning with 30 percent of his juvenile starters.

Sunday, Plesa mixes it up with Pletcher and Ward when he sends out Brave Dave in the Grade 2, $200,000 Sanford Stakes for 2-year-old males at Saratoga. Brave Dave will be Plesa’s first starter at Saratoga since Aug. 22, 2010. He is seeking his first win here since Aug. 12, 2005.

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Brave Dave won his debut at Calder on June 30, showing sharp speed from the gate and winning by 1 1/4 lengths.

“I loved him going into the race and he ran as good as a first-time starter can run at Calder, I believe,” Plesa said. “He’s always shown he’s a nice horse. We’ll give him a chance to show us again.”

Brave Dave ran six furlongs in 1:11.94 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 84. He is the only member of the field to have won at six furlongs.

“Sometimes when a horse goes five-eighths and they have to go that extra eighth they get a little tired,” Plesa said. “That’s one equation I don’t have to look at.”

Paco Lopez will ride Brave Dave from post 2.

Pletcher, who has won the Sanford five times, sends out the uncoupled entry of Rose Junction and Onetwentyeight.

On June 8, Rose Junction came from just slightly off the pace to win his maiden by three lengths over Lignite, who won a maiden race here on Friday. Those two finished 12 lengths ahead of the rest of the field in that June 8 race.

“He’s one of those colts who came to us early at Palm Meadows and did everything right from Day One,” Pletcher said. “He showed a lot of speed. He broke, put himself in a good spot, popped outside of the other horse. He’s got enough gate speed to get going.”

Onetwentyeight, owned by Mike Repole, won his debut by five lengths in front-running fashion, running five furlongs in 1:04.33 and earned a Beyer of 80.

“He hasn’t indicated in the morning he has to be on the lead,” Pletcher said.

Handsome Jack finished fifth in his debut at Keeneland in April before winning his maiden for a $20,000 claiming price in May. Ward said a change of equipment helped turn around Handsome Jack, who most recently finished second in the Track Barron Stakes at Belmont on June 27.

“He had a little bit of a breathing issue and we put a tongue tie and figure-eight [bridle] on him and he was able to get all of his air,” Ward said. “He had a couple of phenomenal breezes since his last race. I’m looking for a real big effort.”

Bern Identity comes off a 13 3/4-length maiden win for trainer Kelly Breen last out at Belmont.

Hightail, Special Jo, Good Tickled, and John Gordon complete the field.