Data Link back with a bang


Stuart S. Janney III's homebred Data Link, who concluded his breakout 2012 season with a victory in the Grade 2 Citation Handicap, picked up right where he left off with a winning reappearance in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Shug McGaughey and ridden by Javier Castellano, the even-money favorite uncorked his trademark late rally to collar Joes Blazing Aaron by a cozy length.

In the process, Data Link was the first half of a big stakes double for his connections. The second half came courtesy of Orb, who jumped onto the Kentucky Derby trail by defeating Violence one race later in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.

Data Link was returning to the scene of his graded debut in last year's Canadian Turf, where he reported home a promising third. Developing into one of the nation's prominent turf milers, he went on to upset the Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland, later added the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes in course-record time, and capped the year in the November 23 Citation at Hollywood Park.

Now a battle-tested veteran in his second tilt at the Canadian Turf, Data Link was reserved off the contentious pace set by Global Power through fractions of :23 1/5 and :46 4/5. Joes Blazing Aaron forced the issue on the outside, and down the backstretch, Howe Great joined them to make it three abreast. Joes Blazing Aaron put his head in front through six furlongs in 1:09 2/5, and forged clear entering the stretch.

Meanwhile, Castellano had angled Data Link out for a clear path. Promptly delivering his closing kick, the 123-pound highweight asserted his class, completed the firm-turf mile in 1:33, and paid $4.20, $2.80 and $2.40.

Joes Blazing Aaron held second by a half-length from the rail-skimming Beau Choix. Za Approval checked in fourth, followed by Empire Builder, Global Power, Howe Great, Cash Rules, Scatman and Night Party. The main-track-only Gourmet Dinner was scratched in favor of the Super Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, where he finished seventh.

Data Link improved his scorecard to 16-8-1-1, $763,835. Long well regarded, the War Front colt won three in a row on turf over the fall and winter of 2010-11, but unfortunately missed the heart of his three-year-old campaign through injury. Fourth in his comeback in the Shady Character Stakes on Belmont Park's soft turf in the fall of 2011, Data Link rolled to an impressive third-level allowance score next time out at Gulfstream.
After his third in his 2012 premiere in the Canadian Turf, Data Link got up in time in the Maker's 46 Mile. He tried to follow up in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, but wound up a rough-trip fifth in a race dominated by the front-running Little Mike. Data Link rebounded in style in the June 10 Monmouth Stakes, where he blitzed 1 1/8 grassy miles in a course-record 1:45 4/5. Runner-up to Dominus while giving him eight pounds in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga September 1, the bay was a troubled fifth to Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile back at Keeneland October 6, before rebounding in the Citation.

The Kentucky-bred is out of the stakes-winning Known Fact mare Database, a full sister to stakes queen Vespers, the dam of Grade 1hero Hymn Book. Data Link, who is himself a half-brother to the stakes-placed Wiki, comes from the family of Grade 3 heroine Strike the Bell, Grade 2 winners Kumari Continent and Roshani and multiple stakes scorers Citizen Advocate and Binalong.