A day after winning the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), jockey John Velazquez teamed with odds-on Data Link to produce a victory in the $200,000 Monmouth Stakes (gr. IIT) on the turf at the New Jersey track June 10 (VIDEO).
A crowd of 16,236 was on hand at Monmouth Park to see the grade I winner Data Link rally wide through the homestretch to defeat Get Stormy by one length. The final time for the 1 1/18-mile feature was 1:45.93 over firm going, just off the course mark of 1:45.75 established by Teddy Ballgame in August 2008.
Trained by Shug McGaughey, the Stuart Janney III homebred Data Link sat patiently behind speedsters Presious Passion, Get Serious, and Get Stormy before making his move at the quarter pole. Data Link angled wide for the drive and closed strongly for Velazquez while edging away from second choice Get Stormy and Eddie Castro in the final strides.
Data Link's final time was a course mark for a rail set at 0 feet, the Monmouth Park publicity office reported.
Quarter-mile fractions were solid for the distance -- :23.21, :46.55, and 1:10.22. Get Stormy reached the furlong pole a half-length in front of Get Serious in 1:33.97, but could not hold the streaking winner in deep stretch.
Sent off at 3-5 in the field of seven while carrying co-highweight of 123 pounds, Data Link returned $3.20, $2.20, and $2.20 and topped the $11.60 exacta. Get Stormy paid $3.20 and $3. Get Serious, another 1 1/4 lengths farther back with Pablo Fragoso aboard, paid $6.40 to show.
“It was perfect,” said Velazquez, who partnered with Data Link for the first time.“There was a lot of speed in the race and he likes to come from behind. It just worked out perfect for us. All the speed held up pretty well and when I pulled him outside at the quarter pole, he responded right away. It’s easy when you ride this kind of horse.”
Velazquez was at Monmouth a day after winning the Belmont Stakes with Union Rags in Elmont, N.Y.
A 4-year-old colt by War Front from the Known Fact mare Database, 4-year-old Data Link improved his lifetime mark to 6-0-1 from 12 outings. The multiple graded stakes winner has now earned $451,335 .
“He’s a pretty good horse,” said McGaughey. “We got a little bit of a pace and Johnny was patient with him and got him to relax. When he wheeled him out, it was here we come.”
Data Link came into the race after a fifth-place finish in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs May 5. He captured the Maker's 46 Mile Stakes (g. IT) at Keeneland April 13 for his first stakes victory.
It was a tough loss for the multiple grade I winner Get Stormy, who lost for the third time in a row since taking the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) Feb. 11.
“I had to move about the five-eighths pole, which was sooner than I wanted to go,” said Castro, who rode the $1.5 million earner for trainer Tom Bush. “He did everything right today, the other horse just caught us.”