Today in Racing History is an occasional feature focusing on some of racing history’s interesting, important, or unusual events.

by Richard Hackerman

April 12, 1978

Occasionally at the races those in attendance believe they witnessed the debut of a potential star. 

Such was the case for those fortunate enough to be at Pimlico on this day in 1978 when Robert Beall’s Maryland-bred homebred Dave’s Friend made his first start, zipping six furlongs in 1:10.4 and winning by twelve lengths. 

For those not in attendance that day, another romp, this time by ten lengths, was in store just ten days later at Pimlico.  He won his third start by eight lengths — three straight wins by a combined 30 lengths.  

Dave’s Friend won his first six starts en route to winning an amazing 35 of his 76 career starts, mostly in stakes company.  He earned over one million dollars in a career that spanned over eight years.  At one point during 1980 and 1981, Dave’s Friend won eight consecutive races.  

Dave’s Friend won races in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Nebraska, Ohio, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky and California.  He won at distances as short as five furlongs and as long as 1 and 1/8 miles, though sprinting was the name of his game.  He was one of the premier sprinters of his time.  He won 17 stake races, setting or equaling 6 track records.  He was named Maryland-bred champion three year-old, champion older horse, and Horse of the Year. 

Dave’s Friend was owned and trained by Robert Beall until age 6 when he was sold to horseman John Franks.   Those having the privilege to ride Dave’s Friend include Vince Braccialle, Jr., Chris McCarron, Randy Romero, Larry Snyder, Willie Shoemaker, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Eddie Delahoussaye, Donald MacBeth, Garth Patterson and Anthony Black.

Dave’s Friend died at age 31.