Data Link Likely Favorite in Canadian Turf
Stuart S. Janney III’s Kentucky homebred Data Link appears to be the class of nine older horses drawn for Saturday’s $150,000 Canadian Turf Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old will be making his first start since shipping to California where he posted a 2 ¼ lengths victory in the Citation Handicap (G2) at Hollywood Park on Nov. 23.
Leading Gulfstream jockey Javier Castellano gets the call on Data Link for trainer Shug McGaughey in the one-mile turf test after posting a solid series of workouts at Payson Park in preparation for his season debut.
A son of War Front, Data Link finished third in this race last year and won the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland in his next start. After a fifth-place effort in the Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day he won the Monmouth Stakes (G2) in June before another good effort when finishing second in the Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) at Saratoga.
“He’s a good horse,” said McGaughey who sent out Phipps Stables’ Point of Entry to defeat Animal Kingdom in the Gulfstream Turf Handicap (G1) on Feb. 9. “He (Data Link) hurt himself down here as a 3-year-old, so he was set back. When he was ridden right last year, he always ran good.”
Two other top contenders in the Canadian Turf are Joseph Witek’s 5-year-old gelding Joes Blazing Aaron with John Velazquez aboard for trainer Eddie Kenneally and Live Oak Plantation’s 5-year-old gelding Za Approval and Joe Bravo named to ride for trainer Christophe Clement.
Joes Blazing Aaron won the Palm Beach Stakes (G3) over the Gulfstream course early in 2011 as a 3-year-old when trained by Allen Hunter, Jr. He went on to run several times for trainers Mike Maker and Steve Asmussen before being sent to Kenneally last fall and won an allowance race at Belmont Park in October. In two races at this meet he finished a close-up fourth in an allowance on Dec. 8 and lost a nose decision to Za Approval on Jan. 5.
Za Approval is a roan/gray son of Ghostzapper out of Win Approval, by With Approval making his stakes race debut in only the 11th race of his career. He is a half-brother to Live Oak homebred stars Revved Up, whose career was guided by Clement, and to 2006 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) hero and Eclipse champion Miesque’s Approval, trained by Marty Wolfson.
Two others that will attract support are Belle Meadows Farm and Lael Stable’s 6-year-old Beau Choix with Luis Saez aboard on a return call for trainer Barclay Tagg and Team Valor International’s 4-year-old Howe Great and Joel Rosario with the mount for trainer Graham Motion.
Beau Choix rallied from off the pace to win a one-mile allowance over the course by a half-length on Feb. 1. The Kentucky homebred son of Elusive Quality won the Rob N Gin overnight stakes at Belmont Park in October and ran a decent race to rally from 13th to seventh behind Nikki’s Sandcastle in the El Prado Stakes over the course here when beaten only3 ¾ lengths for it all.
Howe Great makes his first start since a seventh-place finish in the Jamaica Handicap (G1) at Belmont on Oct. 6 after a very good runner-up effort in the Del Mar Derby (G2) on Sept 2 when beaten a half-length. A son of Hat Trick, Howe Great won the Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park in July after another good runner-up effort in the Hill Prince Stakes (G3) at Belmont in mid-June.
Completing the field for the Canadian Turf are Larry Fugate’s Cash Rules, Elvis Trujillo; Luis Duco Stable’s Empire Builder, J.L. Castanon; Loooch Racing Stable’s Global Power, Paco Lopez; JEOG Stable’s Scatman, Edgar Prado; and Camelia Casby’s Night Party, Shane Sellers.
Our Sugar Bear Stable’s Gourmet Dinner was entered to run ‘main track only’ by trainer Bruce Brown with jockey Sebastian Madrid named to ride.