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.”


New Jersey-bred Triple E will take on open company in Sunday’s $60,000 John McSorley Stakes to be contested at five and a half furlongs on the grass and trainer Tim Hills is aware that the 7-year-old gelding will have to have his running shoes on.

“This is not an easy spot for him, but we decided that he likes this turf course and thought we’d take a shot,” Hills said.

Triple E came back from a layoff of almost five months on May 26 and didn’t fire when finishing fifth in a $32,000 optional claiming allowance event here, a race that was taken off the turf.

“He had foot issues and missed a lot of training,” said Hills. “Last time out, he really needed that race. He’s been training well and he still likes racing so we’re hoping he’ll run well on Sunday.”

Hills has 38 horses in his barn and said that the Monmouth meet is the one on the calendar he circles. He is loaded for bear in stakes races at Monmouth later this month.

“I have a lot of horses now coming back from layoffs and horses coming back from good efforts in their last races,” he said. “Good Morning Diva (fourth in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont on May 12) is training very well and he’ll work tomorrow under Elvis Trujillo. He’ll run in the Pegasus (a Grade 3 race on June 17). Catch a Thief (third in the Grade 3 Allaire DuPont Stakes at Pimlico on May 19) will go in the Lighthouse (on June 30). She’ll also work tomorrow under my assistant, Michelle McSweeney. Senator Beck (third in the Little Silver Stakes at Monmouth on May 26) will run here in the Boiling Springs in two weeks.”


Winnie Dixie won for fun on Friday, taking a $32,000 optional claiming allowance race by five-and-a-half lengths and covering six furlongs in 1:10.19 on a fast track under Angel Serpa. Andrew St. Lawrence, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, said afterward that Mrs. Fitriani Hay’s 4-year-old filly will advance to the $75,000 Blue Sparkler Stakes on July 1. Quick Flip was a scratch for today’s $60,000 Crank It Up Strakes and trainer Teresa Pompey said that the 3-year-old daughter of Speightstown will instead contest the Just Smashing Stakes next Saturday (June 16).