Data Link may very
well go postward as the favorite in the field of eight entered for Sunday’s
Grade 2 $200,000 Monmouth Stakes and his connections expect that the Stuart
Janney III homebred will not disappoint.
“He’s primed and
ready to go. He should really like that turf course and the firm footing,” said
assistant Bobby Medina, who will accompany trainer Shug McGaughey when the 4-year-old
son of War Front makes the short trip from their base at Belmont Park
for the one mile and one eighth race on the grass at Monmouth.
Data Link has won
five of his nine career starts on the turf and his resume includes a determined
win in the Grade 1 $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland on April 13. Last out,
he finished fifth in the Grade 1 $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at
Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard, but he had legitimate excuses.
“Obviously, his last
race wasn’t what we had hoped for,” said Medina. “He had a lot of trouble and
got squeezed back and then had to be steadied. He didn’t like the going either.
The turf was good and he likes it firmer. But he bounced out of that effort in
good shape and has been training really well since we got him back home.”
Medina said that Data
Link missed much of his 3-year-old year campaign after injuring a cannon bone
in his hind leg in a work out while preparing for the 2011 Grade 1 Toyota Blue
Grass Stakes. The horse’s running lines show that he performs at his peak when
coming in fresh from a layoff and it will be five weeks since he last ran.
In the Monmouth Stakes,
Data Link will get to renew his competition with fellow grass specialist and
Grade 1 winner Get Stormy. The former beat the latter in the Maker’s 46 Mile
and then Get Stormy finished ninth in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. This
will also be Get Stormy’s first effort since that race at Churchill Downs.
“These two are
developing a bit of a rivalry,” Medina said. “Get Stormy is a pretty good horse
with a lot of ability and we have a lot of respect for him. Our horse has
always been highly thought of as well.”
John Velasquez will
take over the mount on Data Link, who has been ridden by Alex Solis in his last
nine starts. Eddie Castro replaces Ramon Dominguez on Get Stormy, who was third
in the 2011 edition of this race.
“Get Stormy is
coming up to the race in great shape and he seems to enjoy the Monmouth turf
course,” said trainer Tom Bush when reached by phone. “He’s run well on it in
the past and we’re looking forward to coming back to Monmouth.”