Plesa-Melin Connection Thriving for Nearly 40 Years

March 12, 2022

Hallandale Beach, Fla.Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. and owner David Melin have enjoyed success on the racetrack together for nearly four decades, particularly with Itsmyluckyday, a Grade 1-winning millionaire that ran second in the 2013 Preakness Stakes (G1).

Already a multiple stakes winner, Miss Auramet will go after adding to that track record one more time in Saturday’s $100,000 Captiva Island, a five-furlong turf sprint for older fillies and mares at Gulfstream Park.

Owned by Melin, Leon Ellman and Plesa’s wife, Laurie, Miss Auramet was bred in Florida by Marion Montanari. Melin and Montanari, as Trilogy Stable, and Laurie Plesa campaigned Itsmyluckyday to nine wins, eight in stakes, three graded, led by the 2014 Woodward (G1), and $1.7 million in purse earnings.

“Anytime you do well with a horse it’s rewarding. Then, there’s extra bonuses certainly with someone like David Melin,” Eddie Plesa said. “David’s been a client of mine probably going on 37 years. You usually don’t get to train for somebody for 37 years, but he’s certainly been a mainstay of any success I’ve had.

“It’s just been a great partnership for lots of reasons. When you’re able to win for somebody like that, who enjoys horse racing for so long, he’s one of the unsung heroes of the game,” he added. “Nobody knows who David Melin is, per se, certainly not on a national level, but it’s the David Melins that make the backbone of the game.”

Melin was born in the Bronx, N.Y. and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He graduated from Long Island University in 1951 and settled in South Florida, founding Tech Aerofoam Products, a foam manufacturer and distributor. After expanding his company throughout southeast Florida and Puerto Rico, Melin sold it in 1976 and retired in 2000. He and his wife, Olga, split time between Florida and Idaho.

“David has had horses for many years. He was at a charity event, and he bid on part-ownership on a horse and that’s how he got involved in it,” Plesa said. “Stan Hough trained for him for a while and Stan decided to go elsewhere. I knew him because of Stan, and I’ve been training for him ever since.”

Ellman is a native of South Africa who moved his family to Florida in the 1970s and established the International Bedding Corporation, which grew to become one of the largest mattress manufacturing companies in the U.S. IBC was sold in 2005 and the Ellmans branched out to create Ellman Family Vineyards in Napa Valley, Calif.

“Leon Ellman has been in it for eight or 10 years. He is a very good friend of David’s and David brought him into the business,” Plesa said. “He’s enjoyed it. It’s just been a great partnership for all three of us.”

Melin and Plesa also partnered on Grade 3 winner Brave Dave, and with Ellman have campaigned such horses as Grade 3 winners Mr. Jordan and Miles Ahead, stakes winner Vow Me Now and six-figure earner Kelly Tough. They also have King Cab, a two-time winner that takes his name from the vineyard business and is nominated to the $100,000 Hutcheson for 3-year-olds March 19 at Gulfstream.

“We’ve just been luckier than you’re supposed to get, and we hope it continues,” Plesa said. “It’s very satisfying.”

Gulfstream Park Press Release

Coglianese Photo

“I’m Umberto Rispoli and I read Past the Wire” Umberto Rispoli, Champion Jockey

Umberto Rispoli View testimonials