Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. reached a career milestone at Gulfstream Park
Friday, making his 2000th trip to the winner’s circle after saddling
Salt Water Cowboy for a victory in the fourth race.
Following a winner’s circle celebration, the South Florida-based trainer reflected on his impressive body of work.
“It didn’t mean anything until you get close. Then, you look back.
You’ve been in it for a lot of years and you’ve been lucky enough,
fortunate enough to still be in this game and have the kind of owners
I’ve had for however many years it’s been,” Plesa said. “You’re just
very, very thankful for the people you have working for you that have
been with you for a number of years, which my people have been. They’ve
been a big part of this.”
Salt Water Cowboy ($8) stalked the early pace in the 6 ½-furlong maiden
claiming race before being asked for his run on the turn into the
homestretch. Jockey Joe Bravo lost his whip on the turn, but the
3-year-old colt proved much the best, scoring by 3 ¾ lengths under a
strong hand ride.
Plesa, a Plantation, FL resident, has also saddled the winners of more than $43 million.
The 62-year-old native of Seattle, Wash. won the training title at
Gulfstream Park in 1997 and has captured numerous titles at Calder Race
Course. His father, Eddie Sr., was a leading rider in the Midwest before
turning to training and relocating to Florida in 1971. Plesa worked for
his father, who trained privately for Fred Hooper, and also learned
under Stanley Hough before going out on his own in 1986.
“It’s not something you go in and say, ‘I’m going to go out and win a
thousand races, two thousand races,’” said Plesa, whose was joined in
the winner’s circle by his wife, Laurie, who owns Salt Water Cowboy in a
partnership with Trilogy Stables. “It’s just an accumulation of a lot
of hard work and a lot of luck.”
Plesa has trained many stakes winners, including Three Ring, who
captured the Davona Dale (G2) and Bonnie Miss (G2) at Gulfstream and the
Acorn (G1) at Belmont before running in the 1999 Kentucky Derby, in
which she finished off the board. Three Ring had previously finished
third in the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
The Plesa-trained Gotcha Gold finished second in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup
Dirt Mile before going on the win the 2008 Skip Away (G3) at
Other Gulfstream Park stakes winners trained by Plesa include Best of
the Rest (2002 Unbridled; 2003 Skip Away; 2003 Ocala Breeders Sales
Classic), J J’sdream (1996 Old Hat) and Tekken (1997 Super Bowl). Plesa
saddled multiple-stakes winner B.B. Best for a third-place finish in the
2005 Florida Derby (G1).